Repo Commentary-12/06/19

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First, I hope you and your families had a Happy Thanksgiving! 

 

I am still NOT retired.  Hopefully, I will have news about that very soon.  I enjoyed seeing many of you here in Boca Raton, FL at the RMA Conference in October.  It was the 37thRMA Conference and my 37th

 

 

We are having our Florida Winter this week, in the 60’s and 70’s, while many of you are experiencing brutal temperatures and 1-2 feet of snow up North. 

 

 

My Repo Commentary is posted free (it’s actually always been free) on my website:  www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn, the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website, and on CentralBanks.com as an op-ed.  I’m trying to make it more frequent, but I’ve been swamped.

 

 

If you need to reach me, my mobile is still 646-753-1300, my email for work is jeffkidwell82@gmail.com,and you can also hit me up on LinkedIn.

 

 

Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my former firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information.  I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures! Also, please send me feedback, as I want to make it better all the time. As many of you know, it used to be a daily Repo Commentary back in the 80s and for a long time. But, then again, I used to be younger. I don’t know how I typed this by hand (still do) every single day (and didn’t get fired) and even re-wrote some 200 song lyrics to current market activity.

 

 

Holidays or Events (12/06):

 

 

  • It is the 37thanniversary of me joining Morgan Stanley and entering the industry of Securities Financing.
  • Bartender Appreciation Day
  • Miners’ Day
  • Faux Fur Day
  • Mitten Tree Day
  • National Gazpacho Day
  • International Sweater Vestival
  • Put On Your Own Shoes Day
  • National Microwave Oven Day
  • International St. Nicholas Day
  • National Pawnbrokers Day
  • Constitution Day in Spain
  • Day of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies of Azerbaijan
  • Independence Day in Finland
  • National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada

 

 

Some Famous People Born on 12/06 in History:

 

 

  • 1285-Ferdinand IV of Castile
  • 1421-Henry VI of England
  • 1520-Barbara Radziwill, Queen of Poland
  • 1642-Johann Christoph Bach, German organist and composer
  • 1792-William II of The Netherlands
  • 1805-Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin, French magician
  • 1827-William Arnott, Australian biscuit manufacturer and founder of Arnott’s Biscuits
  • 1876-Fred Duesenberg, German-American businessman, co-founded the Duesenberg Automobile & Motors Company
  • 1896-Ira Gershwin, American songwriter
  • 1900-Agnes Moorehead, American actress
  • 1903-Tony Lazzeri, American baseball player and manager
  • 1908-Baby Face Nelson, American gangster
  • 1917-Irv Robbins, Canadian-American businessman, co-founded Baskin-Robbins
  • 1920-Dave Brubeck, American pianist and composer
  • 1924-Wally Cox, American actor
  • 1927-Jim Fuchs, American shot putter and discus thrower
  • 1928-Bobby Van, American actor, dancer, and singer (and inspiration for at least 5 steakhouses in Manhattan!)
  • 1944-Jonathan King, English singer-songwriter, record producer, music entrepreneur
  • 1945-Larry Bowa, American baseball player and manager
  • 1945-Dan Harrington, American lawyer and pro poker player
  • 1946-Frankie Beverly, American soul/funk singer-songwriter, musician, and producer
  • 1948-JoBeth Williams, American actress
  • 1953-Dwight Stones, American highjumper and sportscaster
  • 1953-Gary Ward, American baseball player and coach
  • 1955-Steven Wright, American actor, comedian, and screenwrither
  • 1956-Peter Buck, American guitarist, songwriter, and producer
  • 1967-Judd Apatow, American director, producer, and screenwriter
  • 1970-Ulf Ekberg, Swedish singer-songwriter, keyboard player, and producer
  • 1988-Adam Eaton, American baseball player
  • 1992-Johnny Manziel, American football player

 

This Day in History (12/06):

 

 

  • 963-Pope Leo VIII is appointed to the office of Protonotary and begins his papacy as Antipope of Rome.
  • 1060-Bela I is crowned King of Norway.
  • 1240-Mongol invasion of Rus’: Kiev under Daniel of Galicia and Volvode Dmytro falls to the Mongols under Batu Khan.
  • 1534-the city of Quito in Ecuador is founded by Spanish settlers led by Sebastian de Belalcazar.
  • 1704-Battle of Chamkaur: during the Mughal-Sikh Wars, an outnumbered Sikh Khasa defeats a Mughal army.
  • 1745-Charles Edward Stuart’s begins retreat during the second Jacobite Rising.
  • 1790-the US Congress moves from New York City to Philadelphia.
  • 1846-American and California forces clash at the Battle of San Pasqual.
  • 1865-Georgia ratifies the 13thAmendment to the US Constitution.
  • 1877-the first edition of The Washington Post is published.
  • 1884-the Washington Monument in Washington, DC is completed.
  • 1897-London becomes the world’s first city to host licensed taxicabs.
  • 1904-Theodore Roosevelt articulated his “Corollary” to the Monroe Doctrine, state that the US would intervene in the Western Hemisphere should Latin America governments prove incapable or unstable.
  • 1907-a coal mine explosion at Monongah, West Virginia kills 362 workers.
  • 1912-the Nefertiti Bust is discovered.
  • 1916-WWI: the Central Powers capture Bucharest.
  • 1917-Finland declares independence from Soviet Russia.
  • 1917-Halifax Explosion: a munitions explosion near Halifax, Nova Scotia, kills more than 1,900 people in the largest artificial explosion up to that time.
  • 1917-WWI: USS Jacob Jones is the first American destroyer to be sunk by enemy action, when it is torpedoed by German submarine SM U-53.
  • 1921-the Anglo-Irish Treaty is signed in London by British and Irish representatives.
  • 1933-US federal judge John M. Woolsey rules that James Joyce’s novel Ulysses is not obscene.
  • 1941-WWII: the United Kingdom and Canada declare war on Finland in support of the Soviet Union during the Continuation War. Camp X opens in Canada to begin training Allied Secret Agents for the War.
  • 1942-WWII: Stary Capielow and Rekowka German Genarmerie massacred 31 Poles for helping Jews, and killed 2 Jewish refugees in the murder.
  • 1947-the Everglades National Park in Florida is dedicated.
  • 1953-Vladimir Nabokov completes his controversial novel
  • 1956-a violent water polo match between Hungary and the USSR takes place during the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, against the backdrop of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.
  • 1957-Project Vanguard: a launchpad explosion of Vanguard TV3 thwarts the first US attempt to launch a satellite.
  • 1967-Adrian Kantrowitz performs the first human heart transplant in the US.
  • 1969-Attamont Free Concert: at a free concert performed by the Rolling Stones, eighteen-year-old Meredith Hunter is stabbed to death by Hells Angels security guards.
  • 1971-Pakistan severs diplomatic relations with India, iniating the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.
  • 1973-the Twenty-fifth Amendment: the US House of Representatives votes 387-35 to confirm Gerald Ford as Vice President of the US.
  • 1975-The Troubles: fleeing from the police, a Provisional IRA unit takes a British couple hostage in their flat on Balcombe Street, London, beginning a six-day siege.
  • 1989-the Ecole Polytechnique massacre (or Montreal Massacre): Marc Lepine, and anti-feminist gunman, murders 14 young women at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal.
  • 1991-Yugoslav Wars: in Croatia, forces of the Serb-dominated Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) bombard Dubrovnik after laying siege to the city for seven months.
  • 1992-the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, India, is demolished, leading to widespread riots causing the death of over 1,500 people.
  • 1995-Khabarovsk United Air Group Flight 3949 crashes into the Bo-Dzhausa Mountain, killing 98.
  • 1997-a Russian Antonov-An-124 Russian cargo plane crashes into an apartment complex near Irkutsk, Siberia, killing 67.
  • 1998-in Venezuela, Hugo Chavez is victorious in presidential elections.
  • 1999-A&M Records, Inc. V. Napster, Inc.: the Recording Industry Association of America sues the peer-to-peer file-sharing service for copyright infringement.
  • 2005-an Iranian Air Force C-130 military transport aircraft crashes into a ten-floor apartment building in a residential area of Tehran, killing all 94 on board and 12 more on the ground.
  • 2006-NASA reveals photographs by Mars Global Surveyor suggesting the presence of liquid water on Mars.
  • 2015-Venezuelan elections are held. For the first time in 17 years, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela loses its majority in parliament.
  • 2017-Donald Trump’s administration officially announces the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

 

 

 

 Daily Weird Facts:

 

 

Ostriches are the largest and heaviest birds in the world, they can outrun leopards, their kick is strong enough to kill a lion, male ostriches can roar like a lion, and they can see as far as 2.2 miles.

 

 

 

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

 

 

 

“This is a wonderful day, I have never seen this one before.”—Maya Angelou

 

 

 

Currency and Commodity Markets:

 

Oil prices closed at:

 

$74.34/barrel on 10/5

$47.66/barrel on 12/23

$48.63 on 01/07

$52.31/barrel on 01/16

$55.26/barrel on 2/3

$55.41/barrel on 2/26

$73.77/barrel on 4/29

$63.28/barrel on 5/17

$54.07/barrel on 6/18

$55.96/barrel on 7/24

$58.31/barrel on 9/10

$53.50/barrel on 10/2

$59.10/barrel on 12/6

 

 

 

Saudi Aramco IPO’ed. The world’s top oil producers are hinting at bigger production cuts. The price of gasoline at my new West Palm Beach station just jumped in the past week by 20 cents, probably because of Thanksgiving travel demand, to $2.42/gallon. Most of the other stations in the area are 30-70 cents more per gallon.

 

 

One USD versus the Yen was trading at (these are all Repo Commentary dates):

 

112.20 on 12/24

108.60 on 01/07

109.07 on 01/16

103.18 on 02/03

104.86 on 2/25

103.86 on 5/17

102.59 on 6/18

102.43 on 7/24

101.72 on 9/10

102.16 on 10/02

102.96 on 12/06

 

 

 

One Euro was trading on:

 

12/24 at $1.1426

01/07 at $1.1478

01/16 at $1.1396

02/03 at $1.2047

02/25 at $1.1955

05/17 at $1.1761

06/18 at $1.1825

07/24 at $1.1740

09/10 at $1.1623

10/02 at $1.1504

12/06 at $1.1688

 

 

 

One British Pound was trading on:

 

12/24 at $1.2655

01/07 at $1.2770

01/16 at $1.2880

02/03 at $1.3758

02/25 at $1.3728

05/17 at $1.3427

06/18 at $1.3157

07/24 at $1.3070

09/10 at $1.2959

10/02 at $1.2882

12/06 at $1.3819

 

 

 

One USD versus the CAD at:

 

1.3442 on 12/24

1.3297 on 01/07

1.3255 on 01/16

1.2492 on 2/03

1.2492 on 2/25

1.2800 on 5/17

1.2740 on 6/18

1.2480 on 7/24

1.2520 on 9/10

1.2560 on 10/02

1.2530 on 12/06

 

 

 

 

Gold closed on 9/09 at $1504.90/ounce.  On 10/02, it closed at $1498.70/ounce. Today, it closed at $1,464.40.

 

 

 

Bitcoin was trading at (Repo Commentary Dates):

 

$8,185.21 on 7/25

$6,350 on 10/5

$3,774.97 on 12/24/18

$3,7774.97 on 01/07

$3,598.90 on 01/16

$3,421.10 on 02/06

$3,826.44 on 02/26

$8,100.00 on 05/16

$7,215.79 on 05/17

$9,088.59 on 06/18

$11,919.30 on 06/25

$9,790.37 on 07/24

$10,183.90 on 09/10

$8,235.46 on 10/02

$7,470.41 on 12/06

 

After rebounding dramatically since the beginning of the year, although certainly not to its $19,000 highs, Bitcoin hit a wall at the beginning of the Summer, rallied during the Summer, and recently has tumbled again in the past three months.

 

 

 

 

 

Global Financial News:

 

 

State-owned oil company’s, Saudi Aramco, raised $25.6 billion in world’s biggest IPO. This values the company at $17 trillion, short of what Riyadh was hoping for.  BlackRock’s stockpicking wiz, Mark Wiseman, once thought to have an inside track to be a possible successor to CEO Larry Fink, has been ousted over allegations of an inappropriate relationship.  A group of Russians have been charged over a global bank internet fraud.  The head of the syndicate has been accused of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars over the past 10 years and allegedly currently has a $5 million bounty on his head.  Gucci-owner Kering is exploring adding Moncler, an Italian maker of ski suits and jackets, to its luxury company. Canadian banks have started a round of layoffs, as profitability has dipped. French workers are protesting pensions in the biggest public sector strike since 1995.  The strikes have now shut down the trains and subway and closed Versailles.  A California man, Kyle Dennis, who was $80,000 in debt when he decided to invest every penny to his name in the stock market, has made $2.8 million trading from home.  More than $370 trillion of existing financial contracts use are pegged to LIBOR worldwide and $200 trillion of them are denominated in US dollars. The end of LIBOR is about 2 years away for everything from Swaps to mortgages to credit cards.  The leading candidate to replace it is SOFR. (see more in Federal Reserve section below)

 

 

US Market News:

 

The Dow Jones (global stocks as well), along with other stock indices, were enjoying record or near-record highs in late July 2019 (feeding off of earnings reports, US budget progress, and the Fed switching to easing monetary policy) but then corrected some 10% in August 2019, due to global political unrest and tariff/trade wars. Since August, it was turbulent, but then gave way to another strong rally.

 

 

The Dow Jones closed at (Repo Commentary Dates):

 

26,656.77 on 9/20/18

26,447.05 on 10/5/18

21,792.20 on 12/23/18

21,712.53 on 12/26/18

24,207.16 on 01/16/19

25,063.89 on 2/06/19

26,106.47 on 2/25/19

25,862.68 on 5/16/19

26,465.54 on 6/18/19

27,269.97 on 7/24/19

26,793.09 on 9/10/19

26,229.31 on 10/02/19 down 343.73 points

28,015.06 on 12/06/20 up 337.27 points as I write this

 

 

S&P 500 also gave up its all-time high on 9/20/18 of 2,930.66, then marched back up to a new high on 7/24/19, only to correct to nearly 2,800 three times in August, before rising again to near the highs, closing on:

 

10/5/18 at 2,885.58

12/26/18 at 2,467.70

01/07/19 at 2,549.69

01/16/19 at 2,616.10

02/06/19 at 2,706.53

02/25/19 at 2,799.34

05/16/19 at 2,876.32

06/18/19 at 2,917.75

07/24/19 at 3,019.56 new all-time high

09/10/19 at 2,969.04

10/02/19 at 2,906.94 down 33.31

12/06/20 at 3145.91

 

 

Nasdaq too gave up its 8/28/18 high of 8,030.04, closing on:

 

10/5/18 at 7,788.45

12/26/18 at 6,554.36

01/07/19 at 6,823.47

01/16/19 at 7,034.70

02/06/19 at 7,263.87

02/25/19 at 7,561.87

05/16/19 at 7,898.05

06/18/19 at 7,953.68

07/24/19 at 8,321.50 new all-time high

09/10/19 at 8,043.58

10/02/19 at 7,809.22 down 99.46

12/06/20 at 8,656.07 up 142.05 at the close

 

 

 

US Treasury yields have been in free-fall since hitting highs in October 2018.

 

2 YEAR NOTES closed on:

 

10/5/18 at 2.88%

12/18/18 at 2.65%

01/07/19 at 2.53%

01/16/19 at 2.55%

02/06/19 at 2.52%

02/22/19 at 2.48%

05/16/19 at 2.20%

06/18/19 at 1.86%

07/24/19 at 1.83%

09/09/19 at 1.58%

10/01/19 at 1.56%

12/06/19 at 1.61%

 

 

3 YEAR NOTES closed on:

 

10/5/18 at 2.99%

12/18/18 at 2.64%

01/07/19 at 2.47% (inverted to 2years)

01/16/19 at 2.53%

02/06/19 at 2.50%

02/22/19 at 2.46%

05/16/19 at 2.15%

06/18/19 at 1.80%

07/24/19 at 1.79%

09/09/19 at 1.52%

10/01/19 at 1.51%

12/06/19 at 1.64%

 

 

5 YEAR NOTES closed on:

 

10/5/18 at 3.07%

12/18/18 at 2.65%

01/07/19 at 2.49%

01/16/19 at 2.54%

02/06/19 at 2.51%

02/22/19 at 2.47%

05/16/19 at 2.18%

06/18/19 at 1.83%

07/24/19 at 1.82%

09/09/19 at 1.49%

10/01/19 at 1.51%

12/06/19 at 1.67%

 

 

7 YEAR NOTES closed on:

 

10/5/18 at 3.18%

12/18/18 at 2.74%

01/07/19 at 2.60%

01/16/19 at 2.62%

02/06/19 at 2.59%

02/22/19 at 2.55%

05/16/19 at 2.28%

06/18/19 at 1.93%

07/24/19 at 1.93%

09/09/19 at 1.57%

10/01/19 at 1.59%

12/06/19 at 1.78%

 

 

10 YEAR NOTES closed on:

 

10/5/18 at 3.23%

12/18/18 at 2.82%

01/07/19 at 2.70%

01/16/19 at 2.73%

02/06/19 at 2.70%

02/22/19 at 2.65%

05/16/19 at 2.40%

06/18/19 at 2.06%

07/24/19 at 2.05%

09/09/19 at 1.83%

10/01/19 at 1.65% dramatic drop in one month!

12/06/19 at 1.84% dramatic rise in two months!

 

 

30 YEAR BONDS closed on:

 

10/5/18 at 3.40%

12/18/18 at 3.07%

01/07/19 at 2.99%

01/16/19 at 3.07%

02/06/19 at 3.03%
02/22/19 at 3.02%

05/16/19 at 2.84%

06/18/19 at 2.55%

07/24/19 at 2.58%

09/10/19 at 2.11%

10/01/19 at 2.11%

12/06/19 at 2.29%

 

 

US Treasury yields have risen, despite the Fed’s continued intervention in the target rate, to October levels.

                                                                                   

 

Housing News:

 

 

The NY Times officially declared the Manhattan real estate a “buyers’ market”.  However, in Florida, local newspapers of Palm Beach reported that the real estate market for high-end properties is up 20% in price and that a hedge fund manager/billionaire just purchased a mansion on “Billionaire’s Row” near President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago for $110 million, which is a new record high for Palm Beach County.  He purchased it from a beauty supply mogul (not the Nexus lady who has that gorgeous one that looks like the White House).  Of course, he already has a $90 million mansion in The Hamptons and a $60 million townhouse/mansion on Park Ave. in NYC.  It’s kind of funny that at the end of the article, they mentioned that the property had been listed for $200 million, yet it is cheered as a positive sign for local real estate.  Tudor and another hedge fund manager had already moved down here to Palm Beach, so the hedge fund exodus continues, as tax deduction limits in NY and CT, lack of Homesteading, and weaker divorce laws, push more folks to Florida. It also could just be, as Jerry Seinfeld said, “the law, everyone eventually has to move to Florida, God’s waiting room.”  I keep in touch with some of the over 10,000 real estate brokers here (oddly almost exactly the same number of lawyers) in Florida, and they tell me that they do see a shift from purchasing property to renting property.  Also, the international money that was scooping up the skyscrapers condos in Miami has started to dry up and vacancies are beginning to pile up, even before several new skyscrapers have yet to be completed. If you recall, in 2008, I told you about how many buildings stood incompleted in Miami after the Financial Crisis.  I’m actually looking out my balcony at an uncompleted hotel here.  By the way, in West Palm Beach, FL, both the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals finally completed the renovations to the hotels that they bought to house players and families during Spring Training.  Officially, UK average house prices climbed by 1% in November, compared to October. This is a 9-month high right ahead of the UK general election. Toronto-Dominion Bank has been added to the list of global systemically important banks (GSIBs).

 

 

Repo News:                              

 

 

 

I am guessing that this is the first time for many to actually scroll down to the Repo Market section of the Repo Commentary first, rather than Entertainment or Sports.  Well, I guess that’s understandable.  We have been experiencing those once-in-a-decade volatile periods in the Securities Finance Market that suddenly put the word “Repo” on the front pages of Bloomberg, WSJ, and NY Times, baffling hundreds of millions of people around the world.  I intended to write this Repo Commentary a month ago, but got a deluge of calls from clients, colleagues, and media about the current state of affairs. It’s nice to be needed and the first call when there is trouble in our Securities Financing industry, to an extent. The minutes of the FOMC meeting show that Fed officials had a long discussion about ‘putting in place a permanent Repo facility to be a backstop in case of future turmoil in the short-term lending market, to avoid the episode of rate volatility in September.  An alternative idea floated at the meeting was to start more frequent open market repo operations that could be increased in size if needed.  What they did agree on is that the don’t want to push the target range into negative territory.

 

Well, “repo” is the lubricant of the money market system, particularly the issuance of US Treasuries and other bonds, and it only comes up in conversation among non-participants when the gears start squeaking or fail to function, like yelling for WD 40.  And, the last time the general public heard about “repo” it was during the Financial Crisis.

 

I know you’ve seen many articles on the subject of current repo market illiquidity and volatility, I’ve read them too.  I think I can summarize them all and add my now 37 years of experience in the Securities Finance market to lay out the causes and possible solutions.

 

To look at the WHY, one need look at what has happened since the Financial Crisis. 

 

  • The regulators, particularly the Federal Reserve, instituted emergency liquidity programs for different sectors of the money market (CP, Corporate Bonds, Broker/Dealers, GSEs, etc.). They eventually unwound those many programs.
  • They opened up for a brief time the Discount Window to more participants and without the previous stigma attached, for collateral providers to access cash.
  • They put FNMA and FHLMC into conservatorship.
  • They began easing Monetary Policy massively for years.
  • They began Quantitative Easing and built up the Fed’s balance sheet to $4.5 trillion. They added to it by buying more securities every month from the paydowns on their MBS portfolio.
  • They propped up some broker/dealers, allowed some to fail, and helped others to consolidate/merge.
  • The Repo Market shrunk in the US from about $7 trillion to $3 trillion, before recent increase to about $3.6 trillion.
  • Regulators instituted mountains of new reforms, especially the 310 new rules of Dodd-Frank, globally to decrease the likelihood of systemic risk in the financial system and to force, particularly the broker/dealers and GSIB banks to hold more capital/reserves for liquidity.
  • The market began looking for alternatives to financing through broker/dealers via CCPs, peer-to-peer financing, Sponsored Repo, and electronic trading platforms.
  • The Fed began its much hailed RRP program, which added over 300 cash providers from the Repo market to finance the Fed’s balance sheet and provide ‘liquidity’ for those cash providers.
  • The Fed stopped QE and began reducing their balance sheet down to $2.5 trillion.
  • The US Treasury began ramping up issuance to the tune of about $1 trillion more, which is funneled through the 24 primary broker/dealers and the central banks.
  • The Fed began tightening monetary policy and tinkering with new measures of repo rates and LIBOR replacement. They also began tinkering with the Interest on Excess Reserves (IOER) from banks and credit unions, to try to create higher reserves.
  • The Fed did an about face and began easing monetary policy. They also lowered IOER.

That’s not everything that happened, but that gives you the broad strokes. And just in those bullet points, I see many of the contributing factors of the recent dislocation of the repo market.  And, by the way, that actually refutes Mr. Memani’s later comment that “Nothing much has happened in the money markets since financial crisis. A lot more happened in those 11 years than happened in the 26 years that I was in the money markets. 

 

I believe the reasons we had dislocations over the last week or so in repo rates, up as high as 10% the first day and 6% the second day, despite the Fed easing the target to 1.75%-2.00% the third day, and coming in with Overnight Open Market Operations (which they used to do daily—Customer RPs, System RPs, Match Sales—which was how we used to determined what they were doing with Monetary Policy, based on whether they were adding reserves or removing reserves and to what extent, but I won’t “bore” you), come down to a major imbalance of bank reserves, behavior not consistent with expectation, illiquidity in the repo market (rather than the highly touted increase in liquidity), concentration risk, a corporate tax date that removed cash from the repo market, humongous new supply of US treasuries being issued, many Repo market participants out of the Federal Reserve direct loop, and a mountain of hundreds of new regulations that broker/dealers (and others) are trying to still absorb and position reserves/capital, personnel, and trading strategies for.  As you can see, there are a lot of balls in the air!

 

I’m not sure why participants and regulators didn’t foresee an imbalance (lack of) bank reserves.  The piles of new regulations that regulators gave to the money markets fundamentally required banks to hold more reserves versus balance sheets (which repo is the major contributor to), the low yields may have encouraged banks to use reserves elsewhere in more profitable areas than repo (they are profit-motivated, as they should be), and the Fed lowered the IOER which may have disincented banks from depositing reserves at the Fed. The decrease in the Fed’s balance sheet came at the cost of the market absorbing those securities. The US Treasury issuing phenomenal amounts of securities that have to be taken by the 24 primary dealers (already full up on balance sheets they are trying to reduce) and the central banks/swfs (who already have $14 trillion of US Treasuries, should have been know as a potential clog in the system.  Plus, with the Fed lowering rates, the returns on those US Treasuries would be lower for those new owners.  And the central banks ownership of US Treasuries is another complicated story, one of ripple effects.  They can’t really sell US Treasuries into this market, without having some issue with the US Government, whichever branch.  But, yet, many of them need to support their currency, particularly against the US Dollar.  So, some of them enter the Repo market to repo the US Treasuries to receive US Dollars to then buy their own currencies with, propping up their currency by kicking the can somewhat down the road, until their GDP rises or oil prices rise (raising their specific GDP).  Layer over that macroeconomic soup a topping of trade wars and tariffs, it becomes rather complex to predict.  And, that brings me to my last observation, that unintended consequences arose from the hundreds of regulations foisted on the money market, mainly because market behavior is not that predictive.  Regulators thought that if they made the system safer, more investors would come in, but yet the repo market didn’t grow that much, but yet supply from the Fed and from the US Treasury increased dramatically.  Regulators thought that if the banks had more reserves and capital, they would pass that on to the buyside, but that didn’t take into account their profit motivations and individual bank idiosyncricies.  Lastly, the regulators didn’t expect the perfect storm of added supply, taxes withdrawn, cash out of the system, reserves lower, and tools that would work directly only on the 24 primary dealers and the 300 cash providers in RRP.  I’ve been remarking for years, since the RRP, that there was not a comparable program for collateral providers/leveraged players in the Repo market.  Steve Malekian went further to say, a year ago, that the newly touted liquidity of the Repo market was “only for Platinum accounts.” It was only for select buyside clients. 

 

So, the Fed needs to do something.  And, I don’t mean just the Overnight operations with the 24 primary dealers.  I can’t even predict what those dealers’ positions are or how the added liquidity would flow to the buyside clients.  The extra cash could be used to fund their Swaps desk, the Repo Desk, other outright traders, Platinum accounts, or speculatively with leveraged accounts (as a few savvy broker/dealers have seen that opportunity and gone short to reverse in at higher rates from leveraged accounts and supply balance sheet).  The point is that the mound of regulations and the open market operations and the tinkering with the IOER are supposed to impact banks and broker/dealers in such a way to induce certain behavior, but behavior is unique.  So, the Fed needs to go back to its ample toolkit (and get people who have been there at least 10 years) to:

  • Implement more term RPs, to give the market some faith and reduce Fed reputational risk
  • Purchase securities, either US Treasuries or Agency MBS, increasing the Fed balance sheet (although this may be difficult because there were probably several good reasons why they decreased it.)
  • Open the Discount Window to more participants, with NO stigma attached (it used to be how one in the market knew who was having a liquidity crisis), and other sectors represented.
  • Create a collateral provider facility, similar to RRP, or help reduce the hurdles, like CCLF for CCPs and Sponsored Repo type ventures to increase liquidity.
  • Tinker the IOER rate UP, rather than down, to increase the Reserves at the Fed.
  • Support/encourage Repo done outside of the 24 primary dealers, helping collateral providers find cash providers, when certain broker/dealers are balance sheet full and capital restrained from the very regulations that the Fed was involved in. I hope that didn’t come out too angry.  I think systemic risk reduction is a huge priority and I am worried about firesale risk (although I don’t think moving the sale down the road to 7 days or 30 days changes firesale risk, it just changes the date of the firesale).
  • Have the Fed be a permanent backstop to the Repo market.

The bottom line is that the money markets, particularly the securities finance market (Repo & Securities Lending) is still trying to find its footing, particularly as the Repo market has shrunk, while Treasury supply has increased.

 

 

 

 

I still see the Repo and Securities Lending market as having changed in many permanent ways.  We traditionally had a credit intermediator, the broker/dealers (originally just the primary broker/dealers) and later prime brokers, who were the pipeline through their respective repo matched books for ALL collateral providers to trade with cash providers, without the two sides ever knowing about each other or facing each other. That lack of knowledge of the other side of the dealers’ repo matched book came at a couple of costs, first, the bid/offer spread that went to the dealers, which has been volatile but certainly widened since the Financial Crisis, and second, the defaults of the Financial Crisis, which not only subjected clients to dealer defaults and wider spreads, but in many cases directly impacted clients by making them suddenly the outright traders of repo collateral. Some of that collateral, on top of it, was very illiquid.  Not knowing who the other clients were on the other side of the dealers’ repo matched book, and who could potentially bring down those intermediary dealers was costly for many clients.  Clearly, with that pipeline of is intermediation becoming severely crimped by post-Financial Crisis regulatory reforms, consolidation and bankruptcies, and the resulting drop of about 60% in balance sheets (which has recovered partially with new entrants to the market and international banks’ increases due to regulatory arbitrage) being used for broker/dealer respective repo matched books, new pathways/pipelines needed to be explored for cash provider and collateral provider clients.  My former baby, AVM’s Direct Repo™, was the first of one of such pathways, over 10 years ago.  Since then, many other liquidity pathways to these markets have been created, including: the Federal Reserve’s RRP program with cash providers, peer-to-peer financing as reported on Treasury OFR’s website between MMFs and Insurance Companies, As Agented repo through seclending agents and some prime brokers to buyside clients, direct lending from beneficial owners to hedge funds who are short via their agents, indemnified As Agent repo, buyside to buyside Triparty Repo through two international clearing organizations of their custodial clients, electronic all-to-all repo on a few electronic trading platforms like (Elixium, BNY DBVX, State Street’s Cash Cross), FICC’s sponsored repo and cleared repo products for certain sectors of the buyside into that CCP, dealer to dealer and some clients electronic trading platforms (like GLMX, HQLA, and Tradeweb), other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (particularly in Europe, like Eurex, LCH, OCC, CME, etc.), total return swaps platforms (like WeMatch.com), and collateralized loan exchanges like AFX/CBOE. There have still been other firms that have created some king of product that mimics a repo, but yet doesn’t show up on dealers’ balance sheets (so helps them), and/or provides better credit counterparties (so helps clients), and can take many forms. I believe this overall evolution will continue and eventually we will see all of these pathways used in some part, including the traditional pathway (to probably a lesser than historical degree) through the broker/dealers and prime brokers. Some of that balance sheet has returned, as I mentioned above, but maybe for only select ‘platinum’ clients and may come at a higher bid/offer spread or in specific, more profitable products/securities, as other market observers/experts have said.  The US tariffs on China have strangely had little effect on Import Prices.

 

 

Securities Finance Industry Conferences:

 

 

 

  • Deutsche Borse/Clearstream held its annual conference this week in Luxembourg, which I attended last year.
  • IMN 25thBeneficial Owners International Securities Finance and Collateral Management Conference was held in Fort Lauderdale, FL on 2/5-2/6. I was chosen as the Chairperson.
  • Finadium held a new conference on the Business of Collateral Trading in Frankfurt, Germany on 2/21.
  • IMN held its annual Fixed Income Investor Network in Las Vegas on 2/24.
  • iMoneyNet held its annual MMExpo in Middleburg, VA 3/4-3/6.
  • PASLA/RMA held its 16thannual Conference on Asian Securities Lending in Sydney, Australia 3/5-3/7.
  • GIOA held its 15thannual conference in Las Vegas 3/20-3/22.
  • Crane Data held its annual Bond Fund Symposium in Philadelphia on 3/25-3/26.
  • Finadium held its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference in NYC on 5/2-5/3.
  • GFOA held its 113thannual conference in Los Angeles on 5/19-5/22.
  • Securities Lending Timesheldits annual Securities Finance Technology Symposium in London on 5/9.
  • IMN held its annual Global ABS conference in Barcelona, Spain on 6/11-6/13.
  • Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income Leaders USA Summit in Philadelphia, PA on 6/18-6/20.
  • ISLA held its Securities Finance and Collateral Management conference in Madrid this week.
  • Crane Data held its annual Money Fund Symposium on 6/24-6/26 in Boston.
  • Hedge Fund Association held its Rooftop Social in NYC on 6/27.
  • Worldwide Business Research held its annual Fixed Income & FX Leader Summit in Singapore on 9/17-9/19.
  • IHS Markit in conjunction with Opal Group held a Securities Finance Forum in NYC on 9/17.
  • IMN held its annual ABS East conference in Miami Beach, FL on 9/22-9/24.
  • IMN held its annual European Securities Finance conference in London on 9/25-9/26.
  • Crane Data held its annual European Money Fund Symposium in Dublin, Ireland on 9/23-24.
  • Finadium held its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference Europe in London on 9/24.
  • National Association of State Treasurers held its annual conference in Naples, FL on 10/6-10/9.
  • Worldwide Business Research held its Fixed Income Leaders conference in Barcelona on 10/7-10/9.
  • RMA held its 37thannual Conference on Securities Finance and Collateral Management in Boca Raton, FL on October 14-17. I saw many of you there/here.  It was my 37thRMA I’ve attended.
  • American Financial Professionals (AFP) held its gigantic annual conference in Boston, MA on 10/20-10/23. I want to go to one of these some time.
  • Finadium held its Rates & Repo conference in New York on 11/4
  • net held its 25thannual Risk USA conference in NYC on November 5-6.
  • SIFMA held its annual Meeting in Washington, DC on 11/18-11/20.

 

 

Federal Reserve News:

 

The Fed Funds rate, which is still the target rate of Federal Reserve monetary policy and changes to which are made by and announced by the FOMC at regularly scheduled meetings, is currently set at 1.50-1.75% (remember, the Fed has been using a target ‘range’ for a while), after the FOMC lowered it on 7/31/19 and again on 9/18/19 and again on 12/4/19. The Effective Fed Funds Rate (EFFR), as reported by the Federal Reserve, was 1.88% on 10/1/19.

 

For you youngsters, particularly the ones freaking out about the Fed doing daily RP operations, the Federal Reserve used to not telegraph what it was doing in monetary policy.  It would simply come in (and not on scheduled dates like FOMC meetings) and add or drain reserves by announcing a Customer RP, System RP, or Matched Sales. We would then all scramble, as the market absorbed the news, and try to figure out how much they did and where the Fed Funds rate would settle.

 

The Overnight Bank Funding Rate (OBFR), is also published by the NY Fed to capture the volume-weighted median of overnight federal funds transactions, Eurodollar transactions, and the domestic deposits reported by banks.  That rate on 10/1/19 was 1.85%.

 

The Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) is supposed to be a broad measure of the cost of borrowing cash overnight collateralized by US Treasury securities.  It is also reported by the NY Fed on its website.  It has been controversial and has been considered as a possible replacement for LIBOR.  SOFR includes trades in the Broad General Collateral Rate of Repo plus bilateral Treasury Repo transactions cleared through the DVP services at CCP FICC, ostensibly filtering out issues trading Special.  However, critics (and I am one) say that it only picks up the Offered Side of Repo (not a median), that it only picks up the small amount of DVP transactions cleared at FICC and Triparty Repo done at Bank of NY, ignoring the growing amount of bilateral (non-Triparty) repo being done peer-to-peer, dealer-to-dealer, and client-to-dealer, outside of FICC.   It is a good representation of where Money Funds (except for a few savvy ones who trade peer-to-peer) are paid on their cash versus US Treasuries in Repo each day by broker/dealers.  It almost completely ignores other sectors, particularly buyside clients with collateral. That all being said, the current SOFR reported by the Fed for 10/1/19 was 1.88%.

 

The next FOMC meetings (and they are all two-day meetings so these are the second day, when they actually announce) are: 1/29/20, 3/18/20, 4/29/20, 6/10/20, 7/29/20, 9/16/20, 11/5/20, and 12/16/20.

 

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (mostly banks, GSEs, and MMFs) is used as a tool by the Federal Reserve, along with its Fed Funds target-setting monetary policy, and IOER for depository institutions, to help control short-term interest rates. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight.  Remember when RRP was trading at year-end for $465 billion?  Well, on 5/15/19, there was only $20 million in bids submitted.  MMF cash and GSE cash has moved out of the Fed’s RRP and into the Repo market.  So, if RRP is not extinct, it is certainly now dormant, occasionally coming out of hibernation for year-ends and quarter-ends, when liquidity becomes very strange.

 

In December 2018, at the FOMC meeting, the Federal Reserve signaled that it would raise the benchmark Fed Funds rate to 2.50% at the December FOMC meeting, 3.00% in 2019, and 3.50% in 2020. If you are keeping score, the Federal Reserve raised the Fed Funds target rate on these dates so far:

 

12/15/15 to 0.50%

12/14/16 to 0.75%

3/5/17 to 1.00%

6/14/17 to 1.25%

12/13/17 to 1.50%

3/21/18 to 1.75%

6/13/18 to 2.00%

9/26/18 to 2.25%

12/13/18 to 2.50%

 

But, then the Federal Reserve paused.  Suddenly, on 7/31/19, the Fed eased the Fed Funds target rate to 2.25%, and then did another rate cut by 0.25% to 2.00% on 9/17/19. Technically, that rate is the top end of a 25bp rate spread that the Fed considers its current target rate (1.75%-2.00%).  The reversal in monetary policy is expected to continue, with perhaps one more rate cut by the Fed in 2019.  The FOMC actually held an unscheduled meeting on 10/4/19, but did not change monetary policy at that meeting.  But, on 12/11/19, the Fed, somewhat expectedly, lowered the Fed Funds target range to 1.50-1.75%, down another 25bp.

 

Quantitative Easing was ‘tapered off’ in 2013.  The Fed still had $4 trillion of debt in 2017 on its books from that QE.  In October 2017, it began allowing those holdings to gradually decline.  For reference, the Fed Funds target rate was 5.25% before the Fed cut of 9/18/2007, at or near the beginning of the Financial Crisis.

 

I personally think the Federal Reserve (and the US Treasury) could use an industry consultant with nearly 37 years of experience in the securities financing market and who has worked extensively in sell-side, buy-side, and vendor firms, giving him/her a unique and neutral perspective.  I know someone like that.

 

Economists say that the Federal Reserve is “super-glued” to its seat until after the Election, after a great labor market report today.  The Fed Beige Book saw a slight pickup in the US economy. Brainard is calling for a major overhaul in how the Fed sets the level of interest rates. Fed’s Powell was upbeat on the US economy and said that low inflation is allowing them to keep low interest rates.  After Wednesday’s FOMC meeting, during which the Fed voted 8-2 to lower the target rate range by another 25bp (mostly expected by the market), Powell signaled a pause in his press conference.

 

 

 

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

 

 

An earthquake in northwestern Albania killed at least 50 people and injured more than 800 others. These are just the earthquakes over the last 3 days!  There have been 43 over the last 30 days. Latest strong earthquakes (5.5 magnitude and above):

 

12/6 5.7 173km NW of Hihofo, Tonga

12/6 6.0 184km WNW of Hihofo, Tonga

12/5 5.6 Mindanao, Philippines

12/5 5.5 Kuril Islands, Russia

12/4 6.0 Vanuatu Islands

12/3 5.5 Kuril Islands, Russia

12/3 6.1 Near coast of Northern Chile

12/2 6.0 60km E of Amatignak Island, Alaska

 

 

 

Weather:

 

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began June 1stand ends November 30th.  For 2018, Colorado State University experts had predicted an above average season of 14 named Tropical Storms, of which 7 would become Hurricanes.  Both are above the averages of 12 and 6, respectively.  But, there were 15 named Tropical Storms, of which 8 were hurricanes, and 2 of them major.  So, they underestimated.

 

For the 2019 storm season, CSU, which has been the most used, forecast a near-average season of 13 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes.  It has turned out to be the 4thyear in a row of above-average damaging seasons.  We have already had 18 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes.  It has become the 7thyear that there were multiple Category-5 hurricanes in one season.

 

The Hurricane names for the 2019 North Atlantic season are:

 

Andrea-x

Barry-x

Chantal-x

Dorian-x

Erin-x

Fernand-x

Gabrielle-x

Humberto-x

Imelda-x

Jerry-x

Karen-x

Lorenzo-x

Melissa-x

Nestor-x

Olga-x

Pablo-x

Rebekah-x

Sebastian-x

Tanya

Van

Wendy

 

 

The Atlantic basin has no storm activity to currently report.

 

 

The Pacific Hurricane Season started 5/1/18 and ended 11/1/18.

 

Eastern North Pacific currently has no activity to report.  Central North Pacific currently has no activity to report.

 

 

 

 

As for the weather, Florida finally has moderate temperatures after record heat.  We are in the 70s and going down to 50s at night.  Heavy rain and snow are expected across the country during the peak Thanksgiving travel time. And once the weekend has past, a second storm system will arrive around Tuesday. There are heavy rain warnings for most of New England and for California. Heavy snow could hit from Denver to Minneapolis. There will be other storms with strong winds from Texas to Missouri.

 

 

 

Sports News:      

 

 

MLB:

 

 

The MLB regular season began 3/28 this year and ended on 9/30 (more than 6 months).  The World Series went 7 games, and the Washington Nationals, who were in the Postseason for the first time, beat the Houston Astros, who won the World Series in 2017,  4 games to 3 games.  The cool thing, from my perspective, is that they share the same brand new Spring Training facility right here in West Palm Beach, FL, and I sing the National Anthem for both teams several times during Spring Training. The Red Sox president admitted it will be “difficult” to keep both Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, as the latter had an option for 3 more years and was expected to leave for Free Agency, but surprised management and fans by taking his option and staying with the team.  That leaves Mookie Betts, the former MVP, who has one more year of $20 million salary on his contract and a Red Sox management that says they want to get down to the $208 million salary cap to avoid any more luxury tax.  Analysts speculate that they will probably look to trade Betts, arguably one of their best players in decades.  This Sunday, the Hall of Fame Committee will decide the next class of inductees.  Is it finally going to be time for Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds?  Probably not yet. The Modern Baseball Era ballot features 10 candidates for consideration:

 

Dwight Evans (one of my favorites)

Steve Garvey

Tommy John

Don Mattingly (another favorite of mine)

Marvin Miller

Thurman Munson (beloved)

Dale Murphy

Dave Parker

Ted Simmons

Lou Whitaker

Matt Kelly

 

“Modern Baseball” is one of four rotating eras considered by the Hall of Fame’s Veteran Committee, not the writers.  It evaluates candidates whose primary contributions to baseball came between 1970-87.  The list was compiled by 11 veteran baseball historians.  Now, a 16-member group of veterans will decide.  You need 75% of the vote to get in.

Now, the 2020 BBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot features 32 candidates.  Results from this vote will be announced on 1/21/20.

 

 

 

Soccer:

 

In Association Football, the Copa Libertadores concludes with Flamengo defeating River Plate in the final.

 

 

Golf:

 

 

At the RSM Classic, Tyler Duncan beat Webb Simpson in a playoff.  Brandon Todd won his second PGA Tour event in as many starts at the Mayakoba Golf Classic. Jin Young Ko finished off her dominant LPGA season, by sweeping major season-long awards with here finish Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship. Jon Rahm has risen to world No.3 after the Spaniard left Dubai with a pair of trophies.  Stanford’s men’s golf team and Duke’s women’s golf team visited the White House, for a special ceremony to honor their NCAA Championships.

 

The European Tour unveiled its schedule for 2020 season:

 

  • 11/28-12/1/19 Hong Kong Open
  • 11/28-12/1/19 Alfred Dunhill Championship
  • 12/5-12/8/19 Afrasia Bank Mauritius Open
  • 12/19-12/22/19 Australian PGA Championship
  • 1/9-1/12/20 South African Open
  • 1/16-1/19 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
  • 1/23-1/26 Omega Dubai Desert Classic
  • 1/30-2/2 Saudi International
  • 2/6-2/9 ISPS Handa Vic Open
  • 2/20-2/23 WGC-Mexico Championship
  • 2/27-3/1 Oman Open
  • 3/5-3/8 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters
  • 3/12-3/15 Magical Kenya
  • 3/19-3/22 Hero Indian Open
  • 3/25-3/29 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
  • 4/9-4/12 The Masters
  • 4/16-4/19 Maybank Championship
  • 4/23-4/26 Volvo China Open
  • 4/30-5/3 Estrella D. Andalucia Masters
  • 5/9-5/10 GolfSixes Cascals
  • 5/14-5/17 US PGA Championship
  • 5/21-5/24 Made in Denmark
  • 5/28-5/31 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open
  • 6/4-6/7 Trophee Hassan II
  • 6/11-6/14Scandinavian Invitation
  • 6/18-6/21 US Open
  • 6/25-6/28 BMW International Open
  • you have to believe that I had no idea this would be so long and that I just wanted to be helpful/informational…
  • 7/2-7/5 Open de France
  • 7/2-7/5 WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational
  • 7/9-7/12 Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open
  • 7/16-7/19 The 149thOpen (British Open)
  • 7/30-8/2 Betfred British Masters
  • 7/30-8/2 Olympic Men’s Golf Competition
  • 8/6-8/9 UK event
  • 8/20-8/23 D+D Real Czech Masters
  • 8/27-8/30 Omega European Masters
  • 9/3-9/6 Porsche European Open
  • at least I can keep this in the Commentary and just update it for the next year…
  • 9/10-9/13 BMW PGA Championship
  • 9/17-9/20 KLM Open
  • 9/25-9/27 The 2020 Ryder Cup
  • 10/1-10/4 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
  • 10/8-10/11 Italian Open
  • 10/15-10/18 Mutuactivos Open de Espana
  • 10/22-10/25 Portugal Masters
  • 10/29-11/1 WGC-HSC Champions
  • 11/5-11/8 Turkish Airlines Open
  • 11/12-11/15 Nedbank Golf Challenge
  • 11/19-11/22 DP World Tour Championship

 

 

 

 

NFL:

 

The 99thNFL regular season ended with the New England Patriots beating the Los Angeles Rams in a defensive battle 13-3 in the Super Bowl.  The 100thNFL season is approaching its 12thweek of the regular season. It has already been remarkable for low-scoring defensive battles, a few blowouts, many missed field goals and points-after, and a remarkable number of starting QB injuries.  It has also featured more than the usual number of bad record/bad teams. Currently, there was one winless team, the Cincinnati Bengals, with several others that are just flailing. However, the Bengals finally got their first victory against the lowly Jets.  This, so far, has been a season that LACKS parity, maybe because of free agency or weird events.  WR Antonio Brown has still not been hired by an NFL team.  WR Josh Gordon did find a new home. Thursday night began Week 14 of the regular season.

 

So, let me tell you what I think about each team, so far.

 

 

AFC East-the Patriots are in first place and 10-2. But, they are doing it with defense, rather than their typical offense.  QB Tom Brady has fewer targets to throw to and worse blocking, which also affects the running game. But, they have found a way to win low-scoring close battles. They stumbled again in a close game with the Texans. The Patriots still have another test upcoming against the Chiefs. The Bills are 1 game behind.  The Dolphins are 3-9.

 

AFC North-the Baltimore Ravens have established themselves with a strong Flacco-less offense, and have a comfortable lead in the Division at 10-2.  They are right up there now with the 49ers and Patriots overall in the NFL, and have bragging rights over the Patriots after beating them. The Bengals are 1-11.

 

AFC South-the Houston Texans, also expected to be stronger, stumbled out of the gate, but are now 8-4 and leading the division, one game over the Colts.  The Jaguars are 4-8.

 

AFC West-the KC Chiefs have become more human, since the beginning of the season and are now 8-4, but lead the Division. The Raiders’ rally failed and they are now 6-6. The Broncos and Chargers are both 4-8, and looking for answers.

 

NFC East-there were high expectations for the Cowboys and the Eagles, and they are currently in first place and second place, respectively.  But, they are 6-7 and 5-7, respectively. The Cowboys were soundly beaten by the Bears last night. The Giants are 2-10.  Rumors are swirling that former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer may become the Cowboys next coach.

 

NFC North-the Packers have been surprisingly strong and looked like they were going to run away with the division again.  But they had a loss to their rival Vikings.  They also just faltered against the 49ers. So, the Vikings are one game behind the 9-3 Packers. The Lions are 3-8-1, and just hard to watch.

 

NFC South-the Saints have QB Drew Brees back from injury and lead the division comfortably at 10-2, but they did lose to their rival (1-7) Falcons, which you don’t expect from a then 7-1 team. Everyone else is underperforming in this division.  The Falcons are 3-9.  The Panthers fired coach Ron Rivera.

 

NFC West-the 49ers have become the real deal, rebuilding in just 2 years, undefeated up until two weeks ago, when they lost in OT to the Seahawks. Even with the loss, the 49ers are 10-2.  The Seahawks are also now 10-2 and have the upper hand, having beaten the 49ers. The Cardinals are 3-8-1.

 

 

 

We had our annual feast of 3 NFL games on Thanksgiving Day!  And if you wanted to ask me whether the Cleveland Brown who clubbed the Pittsburgh Steeler QB with his own helmet, after ripping it off of his head, should be banned for life, I would say ‘yes’.

 

 

NCAA Football:

 

We have now played 15 weeks of the 15-week regular season.  It was really weird starting out without Alabama on top of the AP Top 25 poll, where they perennially start at No.1.  But, since Clemson won the BCS National Championship last year, they were No.1 to start the season.  However, Alabama climbed back there at No.1 again.  However, keeping Heisman Trophy candidate QB Tua in a lopsided victory, cost them dearly, ending his season and maybe his career. Subsequently, they faltered and fell out of the BCS College Playoff picture.  Some serious excitement already, especially with news of California’s Fair Pay to Play Act, which will allow college athletes to be paid for endorsements (profiting off their name, image, and likeness), sell autographs and merchandise, accept endorsement deals, and hire agents, starting in 2023. Maybe the most important/profitable part will be that they can sell their image to appear in a college sports video game.  The last licensed college football video game came out in 2013.  The last licensed college basketball video game came out in 2009.  We are watching conference championship games this weekend, and then the NCAA will sort out the dozens of bowl games.

 

The current AP Top 25 Poll:

  1. Ohio State 12-0
  2. LSU 12-0
  3. Clemson 12-0
  4. Georgia 11-1
  5. Utah 11-1
  6. Oklahoma 11-1
  7. Baylor 11-1
  8. Wisconsin 10-2
  9. Florida 10-2
  10. Penn State 10-2
  11. Auburn 9-3
  12. Alabama 10-2
  13. Oregon 10-2
  14. Michigan 9-
  15. Notre Dame 10-2
  16. Iowa 9-3
  17. Memphis 11-1
  18. Minnesota 10-2
  19. Boise State 11-1
  20. Cincinnati 10-2
  21. Appalachian State 11-1
  22. USC 8-4
  23. Virginia 9-3
  24. Navy 9-2
  25. Oklahoma State 8-4

 

 

 

 

NCAA Basketball

 

The college basketball season tipped off, with No.1 Michigan State facing No.2 Kentucky and losing by 5 points. It’s like déjà vu all over again, as this seems to be MSU’s recipe every year, playing a Top 3 team and losing by 5 points. Coach Izzo thinks this prepares his guys for March Madness and they won’t fear these teams when they face them.  I don’t know if I agree, although his record speaks for itself.  What I see is that they lose and plummet in the rankings. They just lost to Duke, another brutal opponent. To add insult to injury, rivals Michigan and Ohio State are now ranked above MSU.  Here is the current AP Top 25 in this young (7 games) season:

 

  1. Louisville
  2. Kansas
  3. Maryland
  4. Michigan
  5. Virginia
  6. Ohio State
  7. UNC
  8. Kentucky
  9. Gonzaga
  10. Duke
  11. Michigan State
  12. Arizona
  13. Oregon
  14. Auburn
  15. Memphis
  16. Seton Hall
  17. Florida State
  18. Baylor
  19. Dayton
  20. Colorado
  21. Tennessee
  22. Washington
  23. Villanova
  24. Butler
  25. Utah State

 

 

 

NHL:

 

The puck dropped on the regular season, for some of the 31 teams, on 10/3/18. It ended in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals on 6/12, when the St. Louis Blues beat my Bruins 4-3 in the Finals.  The Blues were in last place in their division in January and wound up winning it all. The Blues gave their superfan, Laila Anderson, a Stanley Cup championship ring.

 

This season began 10/2/19. The Bruins and Blues started out this season how they ended last season, currently with the best records in this young season. Toronto’s Alexander Kerfoot was suspended 2 games for violent cross-check on Erick Johnson.  Speaking of the Maple Leafs, they already fired their coach, Mike Babcock. Sheldon Keefe is now the coach of the Maple Leafs. Calgary Flames’ GM Brad Treliving blames himself for his team’s woes. Bruins’ David Backes is back after 3 weeks on disabled list after a scary collision.  Predators’ Vikto Arvidsson will be out 4-6 weeks with an injury. Blues’ Robert Bortuzzo has been suspended 4 games for cross-checking. Lightning’s star Steven Stamkos is out with a lower body injury.

 

I know that the season is 82 games, followed by a seemingly endless playoff that should end in May, but here are the current/early standings. In the Eastern Conference: in the Atlantic Division, the Bruins are in first with a smoking 20-3-6 record (2ndbest in NHL), with the surprising Panthers in second; in the Metropolitan Division, the Capitals are in first with a 21-4-5 record (best in the NHL), followed by the surprising Islanders in second. In the Western Conference: in the Central Division, the Stanley Cup Champion Blues are in first place at 18-6-6, followed by the surprising Avalanche in close second at 18-8-2 and the Jets in third with 17-10-2 record; in the Pacific Division, the shocking Coyotes (one of or the worst teams in NHL for past several seasons) lead with a 17-9-4 record, followed closely in second by the surprising Oilers 17-10-3.  I notice some names doing well (Panthers, Islanders, Coyotes, Oilers) who have not been on the leader board in a long time.  A bizarre Hurricanes goal was overturned due to broken netting. Penguins star Sidney Crosby will be out six weeks with and injury.  Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin will be out indefinitely. Leafs Andreas Johnsson and gone on IR. The World Junior Championship 2020 has announced its schedule. The Devils fired coach John Hynes.  Alaine Nasreddine has been named interim coach.

 

 

 

 

NBA:

 

The NBA season officially began on 10/3/18 as well. It officially ended with the underdogs, the Toronto Raptors, ousting the favorite Golden State Warriors in six games. This year, the NBA season did not start until 10/22/19. The Rockets will file a protest of Spurs loss, citing James Harden dunk in time, which refs agreed with after the game. This could be the only game I’ve ever seen in the 4 professional team sports in the US, in which a victory could be overturned. I’m leaving out the Pine Tar game between Yankees and Royals, as well as the Black Sox scandal. Carmelo Anthony’s Trail Blazers contract will become fully guaranteed, according to reports. College phenom, Zion Williamson is still out with an injury.  The Raptors are interested in Cavs forward Tristan Thompson. The Bucks and Lakers (both surprises to me) are looking like championship contenders here early in the 82-game season. The Celtics lead the Atlantic Division, the Bucks lead the Central Division, the Heat lead the Southeast Division, the Nuggets lead the Northwest Division, the Lakers lead the Pacific Division, and the Mavericks lead the Southeast Division.

 

 

 

Olympics:

 

US Olympian Lindsey Vonn said, “nothing in my final season with the way I’d hoped.”

 

 

 

Tennis:

 

 

A new Davis Cup format will bring out a new Rafael Nadal in Madrid. A Federer-Zverev exhibition match in Mexico City, over the weekend, broke the record for the largest tennis crowd ever, 42,517 fans.

 

 

 

 

Horse Racing:

 

 

The Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council has voted to support partial Lasix use, which is a reversal of their previous position. Bodexpress is leading the list of late-developing 3-year-olds. Del Mar horse racing has been cancelled on Thanksgiving Day, because of weather forecasted there. Dennis’ Moment is an early favorite for the 2020 Kentucky Derby.

 

 

Racing:

 

 

Last year’s champion, his first, for the NASCAR Cup Series was Joey Logano, who beat Martin Truex Jr. in the final 15 laps of the final race at Homestead.  Truex Jr. won the crown in 2017.  The 2019 regular season has just completed and the Playoffs are in full gear.  Here is the complete schedule of races for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup in 2019 and the results:

 

2/17 Daytona 500, won by Denny Hamlin

2/24 Atlanta, QuickTrip 500, won by Brad Keselowski

3/3 Las Vegas-Joey Logano

3/10 ISM Raceway-Kyle Busch

3/17 Auto Club-Kyle Busch

3/24 Martinsville-Brad Keselowski

3/31 Texas-Denny Hamlin

4/7 Bristol-Kyle Busch

4/13 Richmond-Martin Truex Jr.

4/28 Talladega-Chase Elliott

5/5 Dover-won by Martin Truex Jr.

5/11 Kansas-won by Brad Keselowski

5/18 All-Star Open Charlotte-won by Austin Dillon

5/26 Charlotte, Coca-Cola 600-won by Martin Truex Jr.

6/2 Pocono, Pocono 400-won by Kyle Busch

6/9 Michigan, Firekeepers Casino 400-won by Joey Logano

6/23 Sonoma, Save Mart 350-won by Martin Truex Jr.

6/30 Chicago, Camping World 400-won by Alex Bowman

7/7 Daytona, Coke Zero 400-won by Austin Haley

7/13 Kentucky, Quaker State 400-won by Kurt Busch

7/21 New Hampshire, Foxwoods Resort Casino 301-won by Kevin Harvick

7/28 Pocono, Gander RV 400-Denny Hamlin

8/4 Watkins Glen, GoBowling at The Glen-Chase Elliott

8/11 Michigan, Consumers Energy 400-Kevin Harvick

8/17 Bristol, Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race-Denny Hamlin

9/1 Darlington, Bojangles’ Southern 500-Erik Jones

9/8 Indianapolis, Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard-Kevin Harvick

9/15 Las Vegas playoff-South Point 400-Martin Truex, Jr.

9/21 Richmond playoff-Martin Truex, Jr.

9/29 Charlotte playoff-Chase Elliott

10/6 Dover playoff-Kyle Larson

10/13 Talladega playoff-Ryan Blaney

10/20 Kansas playoff-Denny Hamlin

10/27 Martinsville playoff-Martin Truex Jr.

11/3 Texas playoff-Kevin Harvick

11/10 ISM Raceway playoff-Denny Hamlin

11/17 Miami-Homestead final playoff-Kyle Busch

 

The NASCAR Cup Series concluded, with Kyle Busch winning the championship. Jimmie Johnson, 7-time NASCAR Champion, has announced his last full-time season will be 2020.  He began his career in 2001.  Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have saluted Johnson, as other drivers also react to the news. NASCAR racing begins again 2/9/2020 with The Clash.

 

 

 

Formula One began with F1 Car Launch Dates for the various teams from 2/12 through 2/15 for Renault, Racing Point, McLaren, and Ferrari.  That was followed by Pre-Season Testing schedule 2/18-2/21 and 2/26-3/1, both in Catalunya, Spain.  Here is the 2019 Formula One 21 Race calendar and results (it might be easier to just say which races were not won by Lewis Hamilton):

 

3/17 Australia Grand Prix in Melbourne-won by V. Bottas

3/31 Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir-won by Lewis Hamilton

4/14 China Grand Prix in Shanghai (this will be the 1000thGrand Prix)-won by Lewis Hamilton

4/28 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku-won by V. Bottas

5/12 Spain Grand Prix in Barcelona-won by Lewis Hamilton

5/26 Monaco Grand Prix in Monaco-won by Lewis Hamilton

6/9 Canada Grand Prix in Montreal-won by Lewis Hamilton

6/23 France Grand Prix in Le Castellet-won by Lewis Hamilton

6/30 Austria Grand Prix in Spielberg-won by Max Verstappen

7/14 Great Britain Grand Prix in Silverstone-won by Lewis Hamilton

7/28 Germany Grand Prix in Hockenheim-won by Max Verstappen

8/4 Hungary Grand Prix in Budapest-Lewis Hamilton

9/1 Belgium Grand Prix in Spa-Charles Leclerc

9/8 Italy Grand Prix in Monza-Charles Leclerc

9/22 Singapore Grand Prix in Singapore-Sebastian Vettel

9/29 Russia Grand Prix in Sochi-Lewis Hamilton

10/13 Japan Grand Prix in Suzuka-V. Bottas

10/27 Mexico Grand Prix in Mexico City-Lewis Hamilton

11/3 USA Grand Prix in Austin, TX-V. Bottas

11/17 Brazil Grand Prix in Sao Paulo-M. Verstappen

12/1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Yas Island

 

Here is the IndyCar Racing circuit and its 2019 calendar and results (Indy cars are generally considered faster than F1 car along straight lines, mostly because their races are on oval tracks, while F1 tracks are more intricate, requiring better brakes and more aerodynamic grip than Indy cars).  The season just ended, with Josef Newgarden coming in 8thin the last race, to just edge out Simon Pagenaud for championship:

 

3/10 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg-Josef Newgarden

3/24 Circuit of the Americas-Colton Herta

4/7 Grand Prix of Alabama-Takuma Sato

4/14 Grand Prix at Long Beach-Alexander Rossi

5/11 Grand Prix of Indianapolis-Simon Pagenaud

5/26 Indianapolis 500-Simon Pagenaud

6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 1-Josef Newgarden

6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 2-Scott Dixon

6/8 Texas Grand Prix-Josef Newgarden

6/23 Road America-Alexander Rossi

7/14 Honda Indy Toronto-Simon Pagenaud

7/20 Iowa 300-Josef Newgarden

7/28 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio-Scott Dixon

8/18 Pocono Grand Prix-Will Power (I love that name!)

8/24 Gateway Grand Prix-Takuma Sato

9/1 Grand Prix of Portland-Will Power (that’s all it takes)

9/22 Grand Prix at Laguna Seca-Colton Herta

 

 

Travel News:

 

 

LAX is preparing the expected heavy traveler traffic for Thanksgiving holiday, by providing free public transportation during the holidays.  Thousands of Venetians gathered to protest Cruise ships, after historic flooding. Tyler Perry is helping the American couple held “hostage” in Mexican hospital, by paying their $14,000 bill. You can now rent a cabin designed by Matthew McConaughey in Australia.  This Sunday is “Small Brewery Sunday” which celebrates craft beer. Thousands of passengers were delayed up to 24 hours, due to British Airways technical glitch. Cities around the world are cracking down on E-Scooters.

Frontier Airlines accidentally sent an email saying thousands of flights were cancelled. As the 2019 model year closes, 10 popular cars will be discontinued, so it’s ‘last call’: Volkswagen Beetle, Cadillac CTS, Ford Taurus, Chevrolet Volt, Cadillac ATS Coupe, Lincoln MKT, Volkswagen Gulf SportWagen, Buick Cascada, Chevrolet Cruze, and Ford Fiesta. You may have heard a lot of positive news about our new luxury train service here in Florida, Brightline, which was purchased recently by Richard Branson and Virgin Atlantic.  It’s a phenomenal way to get around down here at 85mph and beating traffic! It currently runs from West Palm Beach to a station in Fort Lauderdale and another station in Miami.  They are adding a station at the cruise ship piers in Miami and are negotiating with the city of Boca Raton to build a station there. They also have begun expansion to Orlando.  Not all the news has been positive, however.  The AP, looking at 821 railroads, named Brightline as the deadliest rail service (the worst per-mile death rate) in the US, due to 40 deaths on this short route in its 2 years.  The company noted that 21 of the deaths were suicides, in which the person deliberately ran out on the track.  So, the company is dealing with this problem, by educating the public, putting up better warnings and barriers, and looking into preventive measures along the track. They have announced a participation in a campaign to prevent suicides by train. Florida has just committed $60 million in bid to curb railroad crossing deaths.  This is another issue entirely, as motorists try to beat trains at railroad crossings. There are 17 electric vehicles hitting the market in 2019-20. A German WWI wreck has been discovered off the Falklands.

 

 

 

Health News:

 

 

A new study says that 1 in 8 people with heart conditions avoid or ration meds due to the high cost. Experts are saying it’s important to treat obesity in teenage years, before the health issues become worse in adulthood. Experts say that pellet and other types of toy guns are more powerful than they used to be and that people must wear protective eye gear. There are a number of reasons why children also need to take mental health days, including performance pressure and family trauma. Flu activity continues to increase across the country (I got the shot in September).  Already, there have been five pediatric deaths and number of mortalities amongst older adults. There are now estimated to be over 10,000 mental health apps available offering mental therapy. People who have experienced what they claim are serious eye problems after getting LASIK surgery have formed groups to get the word out on the procedure. A former official at the FDA says LASIK surgery should be taken off the market because of post-operation complications. However, current FDA officials say less than 1% of people who have LASIK surgery have long-term consequences. An update on the vaping lung disease, over 2,200 cases have been reported.  Products containing THC, the compound in cannabis that produces a “high”, remain the leading culprit, particularly those obtained off the street. Experts are now saying the best protection against measles for infants is for everyone around them to be vaccinated, as measles immunity for infants may only last 3 months, not 1 year. Maybe you have heard of “Dopamine fasting”? Apparently, it’s popular in Silicon Valley, with some people in the area striving to reset their dopamine levels by completely abstaining from anything that would be pleasurable. Fasters believe that the more we’re exposed to the exhilaration of dopamine, the more we will need to pursue higher levels of stimulation to get the same effect. In a sense, they believe the brain will reset and restore itself. Some experts say that the science doesn’t work quite that way. Global food prices have climbed to a two-year high, as African swine fever is being felt in pig herds in China.  A 34-year-old British woman is alive and well after her heart stopped for 6 hours. A 16-year-old with the flue, who died in Border Patrol custody, was reportedly collapsed on floor in pool of blood for several hours. Cannabis stocks’ prices have gone up in smoke.  The 2019 slide shows little signs of easing. Did you know that Seltzer and Club Soda are not the same thing? One has minerals and carbon added during processing.  The world’s “first male birth control shot” is debuting.  More than 140,000 people died from measles last year, as the number of cases has surged once again globally.  Most of the tragedies occurred to children under age 5. In 2018, the UK, Albania, Czech Republic, and Greece lost their measles elimination status.  The US is now reporting the highest number of cases in 25 years.  There are large outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, and Ukraine. Samoa has declared a state of emergency and forcing unvaccinated families to hang red flags outside their homes.

 

 

 

Animal News:

 

 

Japan’s oldest elephant died after spending 60 years alone in an enclosure devoid of grass, trees, or other elephants.  Many Australian birds have been displaced by the bush fires there. The Australian forest fires may have claimed as many as 350 koalas, according to wildlife officials.  A dream job in London has just become available.  For $38,000, they would like a candidate to live and take care of a six-story townhouse in the upscale London neighborhood of Kensington, while also watching two beautiful golden retrievers. The person would be sort-of full-time caretaker, housekeeper, and sometimes vegan cook, according to the listing with Silver Swan Recruitment. There is a Mexican forest which turns orange every Fall because of Monarch butterflies.  President Trump signed into law yesterday an anti-cruelty to animals ban, which makes animal cruelty a Federal felony now. A Florida man’s dog put his car in reverse and managed to circle a cul-de-sac for an hour. Given that it was Florida, I wonder if he had his left turn signal on for the entire time! A cat lost in Oregon was found in New Mexico. Some health labs are now looking into using up to 10,000 old dogs for research. A tiny deer-like species has been spotted for the first time in 30 years. An orangutan was granted “personhood” legally.  It has relocated to Florida. The FDA approved cheaper meds for dogs with separation anxiety.  A

California man who stole a lemur from zoo has been sentenced to 3 months in prison. President Trump has just honored at the White House the military ‘hero dog’ (Conan) injured in the ISIS al-Baghdadi raid by US military. Wild hogs killed a Texas woman, according Sheriff.

 

 

Entertainment News:

 

 

Today show host, Hoda Kotb, shocked viewers by announcing that she had just gotten engaged to boyfriend of 6 years.  A former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, is suing Fox News over an alleged Trump tryst story. Jason Derulo responded to Instagram banning his underwear photo. Jennifer Garner accidentally bought a truly massive Christmas tree.  I wonder if she has the same Amazon Prime affliction I have?  John Travolta just gave an interview about the night he danced with Princess Diana, which was orchestrated by Nancy Reagan. Quibi has partnered with Comedy Central on “Reno 911!” revival. Harvey Weinstein, clutching a cane and looking enfeebled, appeared in Court ahead of his rape trial. Kanye West announced a new opera, “Mary”, his second, to premiere in Miami this weekend. I’ve got to get Netflix (not the stock, the channel), as THE IRISHMAN garnered 17.1 million US viewers on Netflix in the first 5 days, according Nielsen. Radio host Delilah, known for her counseling and love songs during her radio show (which I think sometimes have been actually depressing) is talking on The Dr. Oz Show about overcoming feelings of “rage” following the deaths of her two sons.  Her 12-year-old son died from complications of sickle cell anemia and her 18-year-old son committed suicide recently. Taylor Swift had dropped a new holiday song, “Christmas Tree Farm” and a music video with home footage. Jeff Goldblum hijacked Jeopardy! Category and Twitter went nuts Thursday.  He apparently was giving video clues to questions. Speaking of the show, host Alex Trabek is saying that he will continue to host until the cancer treatments make him less than perfect as host.  Pink! Has shared a photo of her new buzzed head, after shaving off all her hair. R. Kelly has been charged with bribing government employee to marry 15-year-old Aaliyah.  Country music star John Rich has joined Fox Nation. Supposedly, a tarot card reading given to Mick Jagger predicted the Rolling Stones’ Altamont disaster exactly 50 years ago. Darlene Love says she was “snubbed” by producers of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting.  The annual event was broadcast live on Wednesday night on NBC. Justin Timberlake issued a public apology to his wife, Jessica Biel, and son after he was photographed holding hands with his co-star Alisha Wainwright.  Hugh Grant posted his infamous 1995 mug shot to shut down people trolling him. Julianne Hough is commending Gabrielle Union for “speaking her truth” about America’s Got Talentalleged bad treatment, when her contract was not renewed.  Former AGTjudge, Howard Stern, fanned the flames of the controversy himself, calling out Simon Cowell and producers.  Maggie Smith says her DOWNTON ABBEY and HARRY POTTER roles weren’t “satisfying”. The official MULAN trailer has won positive reviews, but is not quelling the controversy surrounding Disney’s live-action remake. Tom Hanks $18,675 Scion Xb.  Really? The guy has been in a ton of blockbusters, although I wouldn’t travel with him (or his characters).  Sylvester Stallone drives a $166,000 Mercedes-Benz G550. Jason Momoa drives a $16,070 Cadillac. Celine Dion drives a $500,000 Maybach G2.  Bradley Cooper drives a $220,000 Mercedes-Benz G500.  John Cena drives a $300,000(?) Chevrolet Camaro.  He actually has 23 customized American muscle cars. Julia Roberts drives a $53,000 Mercedes-Benz GI320. Guy Fieri drives a $166,000 Chevrolet Chevelle.  I thought the restored SS Camaro that he drives on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives was his car?  I love that show!  Paris Hilton drives a $285,000 Bentley GT Continental. 89-year old Clint Eastwood revealed that he drives a $25,000 1974 Ford truck.  I wonder if that was his truck in the MULE movies? By the way, he is only worth about $375 million.

 

 

 

At Disneyworld, on the new STAR WARS ride, passengers were stranded when, on opening day, the ride broke down. In related news, Disneyworld says that the immersive STAR WARS experience, that just opened in California’s Disneyland location, will open at Florida’s Disneyworld in 2021.

 

This weekend broke Thanksgiving Day records.  Disney scored once again.  I haven’t heard the song yet for this one, but if it’s like the last one, I’ll be hearing it constantly for about 2 years.  FROZEN II delivered all that it was expected to, breaking the 3-day ($85.2 million) and 5-day ($123.7 million) Thanksgiving weekend box-office records, with a 10-day total of $287 million in US and $739 million globally, and a debut at No.1.  That 10-day total was only topped by INCREDIBLES 2.  Amazingly, the film is already the 17thhighest grossing animated film ever, and it just came out. But it wasn’t all just a small world after all, as Lionsgate’s KNIVES OUT murder mystery exceeded expectations with a 5-day total of $41.7 million. This movie, which looks a little like a star-studded mash-up of THE ORIENT EXPRESS and the board game “Clue”, received an A- from always critical CinemaScore and an 8.1 out of 10 rating by IMDb.  Fox’s FORD V FERRARI continues to show horsepower, coming in at No.3 in its 2ndweek with $13.2 million (3-day) and $19 million (5-day) (total gross now $81 million).  No.4 was Sony’s A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, with an estimated $11.8 million (3-day) and $15.8 million (5-day).  No.5 was Universal’s QUEEN & SLIM with $11.7 million (3-day) and $15.8 million (5-day. This film also received an A- from CinemaScore.

 

This weekend has only one wide release in the animated PLAYMOBIL.

 

 

Technology & Space News:

 

 

Uber lost its London license over passenger safety concerns. Uber announced that more than 3,000 sexual assaults occurred during rides in the US in 2018. Analysts say the best deals this holiday weekend (Black Friday, Cyber Monday) weren’t on electronics and clothes. Russian hacking group, Evil Corp, members are living an absurdly lavish lifestyle, complete with baby lions, stacks of cash, and Lamborghinis. Two Russian hackers are thought to be the “most prolific cybercriminals”, as they have ben charged with stealing $70 million. Astrophysicists think there’s a black hole in our solar system. Jeff Bezos now has 3 women in his elite S-Team executive squad, although they are still massively outnumbered by 19 men. Best Buy stock jumped on Earnings news, but failed to hold the level.

 

 

US News:

 

 

The impeachment inquiry into President Trump continues. Schiff says the evidence from the impeachment hearings is “overwhelming”. The California Democrat wouldn’t “foreclose the possibility” of calling more witnesses.  The attorney for an indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani said his client was willing to tell Congress that Nunes met with Shokin of Ukraine about investigating the Bidens. Nunes dodged questions about reports that he met with Shokin. The Supreme Court blocked a subpoena for President Trump’s financial records. A judge has ruled that Don McGahn must testify before the House Judiciary Committee. Giulani is blasting the impeachment inquiry. House Democrats will draft impeachment charges against President Trump.  Nancy Pelosi said that the President has “left the House no choice.”  In related news, President Trump supposedly spoke with Rudy Giuliani on unsecured cellphone lines that were likely tapped by Russia spies. In other political news, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has thrown his hat in the ring for 2020 Presidential race. It is not his first Presidential rodeo. There was an airspace violation in Washington, DC that put the White House on temporary lockdown. After 36 years in prison, 3 men were cleared in death of a Baltimore teenager. A Chicago man has been charged with strangling college student in campus garage.  Financial Times reported that two-thirds of American citizens are not feeling the benefit of the Wall Street markets’ rally. The Feds announced that they had arrested more than 60 Latin Kings members along the US East coast.

 

International News:

 

I have to say, I’m surprised, maybe at how naïve I have been, to think that Russia, since 1991 and the Soviet Union broke up, has continued the Cold War-type spies, tapping and intrigue, along with newer cyber hacking.  In Hong Kong, the pro-democracy camp won control of 17 of the 18 district councils in local elections. Amid protests against fuel rationing and price hikes in Iran, dozens of protesters were killed and the government restricted access to the Internet. Pope Francis has made an historic trip to Japan.  Queen Elizabeth has fired her son, Prince Andrew, from all royal duties and his approximately $300,000/year salary. She also just cancelled his birthday celebration.  All of this stems from the blowback due to his poor handling of an interview on TV regarding his relationship with accused sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein. Leaked documents are showing a chilling look inside Chinese detention camps. The Power of Siberia pipeline began operations, delivering Russian natural gas to China. In Iraq, PM Adil Abdul-Mahdi resigned amidst ongoing protests. Luis Lacalle Pou of the National Party was elected President of Uruguay. Angela Merkel said we must remember Nazi crimes and expressed Germany’s “deep shame” on her first trip to the Auschwitz death camp.  Firefighters are battling to contain a “mega blaze” 60 km long north of Sydney, saying it is “too big to put out”.  Protesters are putting pressure on Madrid climate talks, with about 500,000 people assembled outside the UN negotiations. Police kill suspects in India vet rape-murder case. An Indian woman was shot for “pausing dance” at wedding.

 

Florida:

 

 

 

 

There have been several high-profile killings in Florida over the past week.  Last night, 2 armed men carjacked a UPS truck and wound up in a shootout with police right in the middle of I-95. The 2 thieves, the UPS driver, and a bystander were all shot and killed.  It turns out that the 2 robbers were freed from prison in 2017. In Pensacola, today, an armed Saudi student opened fire on a Naval Air Station base, killing three people in a classroom, before killing himself.  It was the second shooting at a US Navy base this week.  President Trump will be in Broward County this weekend, at Miami’s Turnberry.

 

I am usually singing a National Anthem, singing in my 6-part harmony group Generation Gap, and/or doing an Elvis Presley gig, each week here in Palm Beach County, FL. I think I had 3 gigs this week and more to come, and I did finally break down and buy a performance wig, because of the receding grey hair.  However, if you were inclined to see much more famous bands or solos in concert than my Generation Gap or Elvis Presley performances, there were many acts which came to Florida this year, perhaps when you were visiting (I should be getting updated schedules for each venue soon for Q4 and 2020):

 

 

 

The Temptations-Fort Lauderdale, January 31

Don McLean-Immokalee, January 31

Michael Bolton-Fort Lauderdale, February 2

The Four Tops and the Temptations-West Palm Beach, February 2

Melissa Manchester-Aventura, February 8

Michael Bolton-West Palm Beach, February 8

The Commodores-Miami, February 9

Patti LaBelle-Fort Myers, February 11

Duran Duran-Miami Beach, February 12

Franki Valli & the Four Seasons, Hollywood, February 14

Andrea Bocelli-Miami, February 14

Dave Mason-Fort Lauderdale, February 15

Little River Band-Fort Myers, February 15

Michael Buble-Sunrise, February 16 (I would like to go)

Alan Parsons Project-Fort Lauderdale, February 18

Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes-Bonita Springs, February 20

Art Garfunkel-Fort Lauderdale, February 20

Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20

Sarah Brightman-Hollywood, February 20

PGA Honda Classic-PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, February 28-March 2

Pink-Sunrise-March 1 (it was fantastic!)

Sara Mclachlan-March 1, West Palm Beach

Paul Anka-Fort Lauderdale-March 4

Elton John-Sunrise, March 16

Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band-Sunrise, March 17

Steve Miller Band-Hollywood, March 17

Tony Bennett-Miami, March 21

Palm Beach International Boat Show-West Palm Beach, March 28-March 31

Jackson Browne-West Palm Beach, April 3

Abba The Concert-Miami Beach, April 4

The Rolling Stones-Miami, April 20

Whitesnake-Fort Lauderdale, April 25

Slayer-West Palm Beach, May 11

Rascal Flatts-West Palm Beach, May 23

Ariana Grande-Orlando, May 29

Ozzie Osbourne & Megadeth-Sunrise, May 31

Hootie & the Blowfish-West Palm Beach, June 8

Florence and The Machine-Miami, June 9

Train & Goo Goo Dolls-West Palm Beach, July 6

Hugh Jackman-Sunrise, July 6

Jeff Lynnes’ Electric Light Orchestra-Sunrise, July 9

New Kids on the Block, Salt N Pepa, Naughty by Nature-Sunrise, July 14

Iron Maiden-Sunrise, July 18

Dave Matthews Band-West Palm Beach, July 26

Jennifer Lopez-Miami, July 26

Korn & Alice in Chains-West Palm Beach, July 28

Shawn Mendes-Miami, July 28

Queen & Adam Lambert-Sunrise, August 17

Florida Georgia Line-West Palm Beach, August 29

Peter Frampton-West Palm Beach, September 6

Dane Cook-Fort Lauderdale, September 28

 

Repo Commentary-10/4/19

Repo Commentary-10/4/19

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No, I am NOT retired. I will be seeing many of you here in Boca Raton, FL at the RMA Conference in October. It is currently in the upper 80s, very windy, and quite humid, but sunny. My name may pop a few times in the news, prior to the conference. They couldn’t find any Repo expert old enough to know how the Repo market was ‘back in the days’ and who could explain why there has been so much volatility in (something that happens about every decade, according to my good friend and colleague/partner from MS).

Meanwhile, did Summer really go by that fast? I remember speaking to a really smart quant one time in, I don’t know, maybe Newport Beach, CA, and he said that “the velocity of time increases with age.” I don’t know if he was just right or he somehow cursed me, but every season is faster than the last year and every year is faster than the prior ten years! Or, so it seems. I know y’all (I am now a Floridian) in places like Maine or the UP have a brief week or two between Winter and, well Winter.

My Repo Commentary is posted free (it’s actually always been free) on my website: http://www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn, the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website, and on CentralBanks.com as an op-ed. I’m trying to make it more frequent, but I’ve been swamped.

If you need to reach me, my mobile is still 646-753-1300, my email for work is jeffkidwell82@gmail.com, and you can also hit me up on LinkedIn.

Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my former firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information. I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures! I’ll let you in on a secret that I got some of my Redneck Friday photos from a few State Treasurers’ offices. Also, please send me feedback, as I want to make it better all the time. As many of you know, it used to be a daily Repo Commentary back in the 80s and for a long time. But, then again, I used to be younger. I don’t know how I typed this by hand (still do) every single day (and didn’t get fired) and even re-wrote some 200 song lyrics to current market activity.

Holidays or Events (10/3):

¥ Bring Your Bible to School Day
¥ Look at the Leaves Day
¥ National Butterfly and Hummingbird Day
¥ National Boyfriend Day
¥ National Caramel Custard Day
¥ Mean Girls Appreciation Day (a weird social media celebration of the film)
¥ National Poetry Day
¥ National Techies Day
¥ National Virus Appreciation Day
¥ German Unity Day (in Germany)
¥ Morazan Day in Honduras
¥ National Day (independence of Iraq from the UK)
¥ National Foundation Day (South Korea)

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Monday (9/29-10/1) was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year (Head of the Year). Next week (10/8-10/9) is Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.

Some Famous People Born on 10/3 in History:

¥ 85 BC- Gaius Cassius Longinus- Roman politician (died at age 43
¥ 1900-Thomas Wolfe-American novelist
¥ 1925-Gore Vidal-American novelist
¥ 1925-George Wein-American pianist/producer, co-founded Newport Folk Festival
¥ 1938-Eddie Cochran-American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor
¥ 1940-Jean Ratelle-Canadian hockey player and coach
¥ 1941-Chubby Checker-American singer-songwriter
¥ 1946-P.P. Arnold-American soul singer
¥ 1947-Ben Cauley-American trumpet player and songwriter
¥ 1947-Fred DeLuca-American businessman, co-founded Subway
¥ 1949-Lindsey Buckingham-American singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer
¥ 1951-Keb’ Mo-American blues musician and songwriter
¥ 1951-Kathryn D. Sullivan-American geologist and astronaut
¥ 1951-Dave Winfield-MLB player and sportscaster
¥ 1954-Dennis Eckersley-MLB player and sportscaster
¥ 1954-Al Sharpton-American minister, talks show host, political activist
¥ 1954-Stevie Ray Vaughan-American singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer
¥ 1959-Fred Couples-American golfer
¥ 1959-Jack Wagner-American actor and singer
¥ 1962-Tommy Lee-Greek-American singer-songwriter, drummer, and producer
¥ 1964-Clive Owen-English actor
¥ 1969-Gwen Stefani-American singer-songwriter, actress, fashion designer
¥ 1969-Tetsuya-Japanese singer-songwriter, bass player, and producer
¥ 1970-Jimmy Ray-English singer-songwriter and guitarist
¥ 1971-Wil Cordero-Puerto Rican-American MLB player and coach
¥ 1971-Kevin Richardson-American singer-songwriter and actor
¥ 1973-Neve Campbell-Canadian actress and producer
¥ 1973-Lena Headey-British actress
¥ 1984-Ashlee Simpson-American singer-songwriter and actress

This Day in History (10/3):

¥ 2457 BC- Gaecheonjeol, Hwanung purportedly descended from Heaven, celebrated as South Korea’s National Foundation Day.
• 52 BC-Vercingetorix, leader of the Gauls, surrenders to the Romans under Julius Caesar, ending the siege and battle of Alesia.
¥ 42 BC-Triumvirs Mark Antony and Octavian fight a decisive battle with Caesar’s assassins Brutus and Cassius.
¥ 382-Roman Emperor Theodosius I concludes a peace treaty with the Goths and settles them in the Balkans.
¥ 1283-Dafydd ap Gruffydd, prince of Gwynedd in Wales, is the first nobleman to be executed by hanging, drawing and quartering.
¥ 1683-Qing dynasty naval commander Shi Lang receives the surrender of the Tungning kingdom on Taiwan after the Battle of Penghu.
¥ 1712-the Treaty of Nis is signed by the Ottoman Empire and Russia at the end of the Russian-Turkish War.
¥ 1789-George Washington declares a Thanksgiving Day for that year.
¥ 1795-Slave rebel leader Tula is executed in Curacao.
¥ 1863-the last Thursday in November is declared as the national holiday of Thanksgiving Day by US President Abraham Lincoln.
¥ 1873-Chief Kintpuash and companions are hanged for their part in the Modoc War of northern California.
¥ 1912-US forces defeat Nicaraguan rebels at the Battle of Coyotepe Hill.
¥ 1918-King Boris III of Bulgaria accedes to the throne.
¥ 1919-Cincinnati Reds pitcher Adolfo Luque becomes the first Latin player to appear in the World Series.
¥ 1929-the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes is renamed as Yugoslavia.
¥ 1932-Iraq gains independence from the United Kingdom.
¥ 1935-Second Italo-Abyssinian War: Italy invades Ethiopia.
¥ 1943-World War II: German forces murder 92 civilians in Lyngiades, Greece.
¥ 1949-WERD, the first black-owned radio station in the US, opens in Atlanta.
¥ 1951-Korean War: the First Battle of Maryang San pits Commonwealth troops against communist Chinese troops.
¥ 1952-the UK successfully tests a nuclear weapon to become the world’s third nuclear power.
¥ 1963-a violent coup in Honduras begins two decades of military rule.
¥ 1978-a Finnish Air Force DC-3 crashes, killing all aboard (12 VIP passengers and 3 crew).
¥ 1981-the hunger strike at the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland ends after 7 months and 10 deaths.
¥ 1985-the Space Shuttle Atlantis makes its maiden flight.
¥ 1990-the German Democratic Republic is abolished and becomes part of the Federal Republic of Germany.
¥ 1993-an American attack against a warlord in Mogadishu fails. 18 attackers and over 350 Somalis die.
¥ 2008-the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 for the US financial system is signed by President George W. Bush.
¥ 2009-Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgzstan, and Turkey join together in the Turkic Council.
¥ 2013-at least 134 migrants are killed when their boat sinks near the Italian island of Lampedusa.
¥ 2015-42 people are killed and 33 go missing in the Kunduz hospital strike.

Daily Weird Facts:

Actor Frankie Muniz suffers from long term memory loss and doesn’t remember being on Malcolm in the Middle.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to have changed often.”—Winston Churchill

Currency and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices closed at:

$74.34/barrel on 10/5
$47.66/barrel on 12/23
$48.63 on 01/07
$52.31/barrel on 01/16
$55.26/barrel on 2/3
$55.41/barrel on 2/26
$73.77/barrel on 4/29
$63.28/barrel on 5/17
$54.07/barrel on 6/18
$55.96/barrel on 7/24
$58.31/barrel on 9/10
$53.50/barrel on 10/2

The price of gasoline at my new West Palm Beach station has slowly climbed since Hurricane Dorian to $2.39/gallon, despite the drop in oil prices during the same period. Most of the other stations in the area are 40-70 cents more per gallon.

One USD versus the Yen was trading at (these are all Repo Commentary dates):

112.20 on 12/24
108.60 on 01/07
109.07 on 01/16
103.18 on 02/03
104.86 on 2/25
103.86 on 5/17
102.59 on 6/18
102.43 on 7/24
101.72 on 9/10
102.16 on 10/02

One Euro was trading on:

12/24 at $1.1426
01/07 at $1.1478
01/16 at $1.1396
02/03 at $1.2047
02/25 at $1.1955
05/17 at $1.1761
06/18 at $1.1825
07/24 at $1.1740
09/10 at $1.1623
10/02 at $1.1504

One British Pound was trading on:

12/24 at $1.2655
01/07 at $1.2770
01/16 at $1.2880
02/03 at $1.3758
02/25 at $1.3728
05/17 at $1.3427
06/18 at $1.3157
07/24 at $1.3070
09/10 at $1.2959
10/02 at $1.2882

One USD versus the CAD at:

1.3442 on 12/24
1.3297 on 01/07
1.3255 on 01/16
1.2492 on 2/03
1.2492 on 2/25
1.2800 on 5/17
1.2740 on 6/18
1.2480 on 7/24
1.2520 on 9/10
1.2560 on 10/02

Gold closed on 9/09 at $1504.90/ounce. On 10/02, it closed at $1498.70/ounce.

Bitcoin was trading at (Repo Commentary Dates):

$8,185.21 on 7/25
$6,350 on 10/5
$3,774.97 on 12/24/18
$3,7774.97 on 01/07
$3,598.90 on 01/16
$3,421.10 on 02/06
$3,826.44 on 02/26
$8,100.00 on 05/16
$7,215.79 on 05/17
$9,088.59 on 06/18
$11,919.30 on 06/25
$9,790.37 on 07/24
$10,183.90 on 09/10
$8,235.46 on 10/02

After rebounding dramatically since the beginning of the year, although certainly not to its $19,000 highs, Bitcoin hit a wall at the beginning of the Summer, rallied during the Summer, and recently has tumbled again in the past month.

Global Financial News:

The recent deal with the Trump Administration puts Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on course to break free of government conservatorship and allows them to retain earnings. The US unemployment rate just fell to a 50-year low today. The figures run counter to recent economic data that was pointing to the US heading for a recession. The EU is readying its response to tariffs imposed by the US, after the WTO ruled that the US could retaliate against the EU subsidies to aircraft manufacturer Airbus. Advisory firms are being urged to act a “digital safeguards” and train employees and clients on cybersecurity and reviewing software vendors’ security. In an ironic twist, the FSB, who originally pushed for tough industry regulations, is now saying that cutting back banks’ loss reserves/equity/capital that they have to hold, to reduce the likelihood of a government bailout during systemic crisis, would help make the global economy more stable. That comes from Randal Quarles, chairman of the FSB and vice chairman of supervision at the Federal Reserve, saying “We have set our [loss-absorbing capacity] too high.” Fed’s Clarida said monetary policy is “not on a preset course.” Trade groups and financial institutions are calling for action to deal with unnecessary fragmentation that regulations have created, in some cased unintended consequences. The Federal Reserve will discuss changes to bank supervision, including ones that will ease regulations for mid-size and regional banks. Living Will requirements are also expected to change and become based on bank size. EU and Ireland say that the UK must make more concessions to get a Brexit deal, making it appear that British PM Boris Johnson’s proposal is not likely to lead to a deal. CFPB has added members to its advisory boards, reversing former acting Director Mulvaney’s efforts to dismantle some of the boards of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In Pensions & Investments, a new survey from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies shows that only 17% of employers are “very” confident about their employees’ retirement security. 23% of employers said they were “not too” confident, and 6% were “not at all” confident. Philadelphia Fed president Patrick Harker said that the use of digital currencies by central banks is “inevitable.” Falling yields on US Treasuries and German Bunds, fueled by strong appetite for ‘save haven’ securities and Easing by the Federal Reserve, suggest the global economy is in trouble and inflation is set to remain low. The pace of the expansion of the US services sector has slowed to a 3-year low in September, according to the Institute for Supply Management. The first 4 IPOs since WeWork’s planned offering collapsed and Peloton shares dropped post-IPO, demonstrate that investors appear to be losing interest in startups going public, per Bloomberg News. Slowing in US manufacturing activity and private-sector hiring, along with a weakening economy and growing trade strife, are making analysts bearish on industrial stocks.

US Market News:

The Dow Jones (global stocks as well), along with other stock indices, were enjoying record or near-record highs in late July 2019 (feeding off of earnings reports, US budget progress, and the Fed switching to easing monetary policy) but then corrected some 10% in August 2019, due to global political unrest and tariff/trade wars. Since August, it has been turbulent, but given the turmoil in the Repo Market, Fed easing, and lower yields/higher issuance in the US Treasury market, one would have expected some reallocation to stocks.

The Dow Jones closed at (Repo Commentary Dates):

26,656.77 on 9/20/18
26,447.05 on 10/5/18
21,792.20 on 12/23/18
21,712.53 on 12/26/18
24,207.16 on 01/16/19
25,063.89 on 2/06/19
26,106.47 on 2/25/19
25,862.68 on 5/16/19
26,465.54 on 6/18/19
27,269.97 on 7/24/19
26,793.09 on 9/10/19
26,229.31 on 10/02/19 down 343.73 points as I write this

S&P 500 also gave up its all-time high on 9/20/18 of 2,930.66, then marched back up to a new high on 7/24/19, only to correct to nearly 2,800 three times in August, before rising again to near the highs, closing on:

10/5/18 at 2,885.58
12/26/18 at 2,467.70
01/07/19 at 2,549.69
01/16/19 at 2,616.10
02/06/19 at 2,706.53
02/25/19 at 2,799.34
05/16/19 at 2,876.32
06/18/19 at 2,917.75
07/24/19 at 3,019.56 new all-time high
09/10/19 at 2,969.04
10/02/19 at 2,906.94 down 33.31 as I write this

Nasdaq too gave up its 8/28/18 high of 8,030.04, closing on:

10/5/18 at 7,788.45
12/26/18 at 6,554.36
01/07/19 at 6,823.47
01/16/19 at 7,034.70
02/06/19 at 7,263.87
02/25/19 at 7,561.87
05/16/19 at 7,898.05
06/18/19 at 7,953.68
07/24/19 at 8,321.50 new all-time high
09/10/19 at 8,043.58
10/02/19 at 7,809.22 down 99.46 as I write this

US Treasury yields have been in free-fall since hitting highs in October 2018.

2 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 2.88%
12/18/18 at 2.65%
01/07/19 at 2.53%
01/16/19 at 2.55%
02/06/19 at 2.52%
02/22/19 at 2.48%
05/16/19 at 2.20%
06/18/19 at 1.86%
07/24/19 at 1.83%
09/09/19 at 1.58%
10/01/19 at 1.56%

3 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 2.99%
12/18/18 at 2.64%
01/07/19 at 2.47% (inverted to 2years)
01/16/19 at 2.53%
02/06/19 at 2.50%
02/22/19 at 2.46%
05/16/19 at 2.15%
06/18/19 at 1.80%
07/24/19 at 1.79%
09/09/19 at 1.52%
10/01/19 at 1.51%

5 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.07%
12/18/18 at 2.65%
01/07/19 at 2.49%
01/16/19 at 2.54%
02/06/19 at 2.51%
02/22/19 at 2.47%
05/16/19 at 2.18%
06/18/19 at 1.83%
07/24/19 at 1.82%
09/09/19 at 1.49%
10/01/19 at 1.51%

7 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.18%
12/18/18 at 2.74%
01/07/19 at 2.60%
01/16/19 at 2.62%
02/06/19 at 2.59%
02/22/19 at 2.55%
05/16/19 at 2.28%
06/18/19 at 1.93%
07/24/19 at 1.93%
09/09/19 at 1.57%
10/01/19 at 1.59%

10 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.23%
12/18/18 at 2.82%
01/07/19 at 2.70%
01/16/19 at 2.73%
02/06/19 at 2.70%
02/22/19 at 2.65%
05/16/19 at 2.40%
06/18/19 at 2.06%
07/24/19 at 2.05%
09/09/19 at 1.83%
10/01/19 at 1.65% dramatic drop in one month!

30 YEAR BONDS closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.40%
12/18/18 at 3.07%
01/07/19 at 2.99%
01/16/19 at 3.07%
02/06/19 at 3.03%
02/22/19 at 3.02%
05/16/19 at 2.84%
06/18/19 at 2.55%
07/24/19 at 2.58%
09/10/19 at 2.11%
10/01/19 at 2.11%

US Treasury yields have virtually disappeared in the last 2 months and market participants got another 25bp rate cut at the 9/18 FOMC meeting, and are expecting yet another cut before year-end. Timing is perfect for record issuance by the US Treasury, so it will pay less interest on its debt, and as it’s mulling over issuing much longer maturities at these cycle low interest rates. But, there is a ‘Catch-22’: the rates are low, so, great for issuance and great for Treasury; but who will buy the securities if they have too low a yield versus other investments?

Housing News:

The NY Times officially declared the Manhattan real estate a “buyers’ market”. Hmmm, the brokers on Million Dollar Listing-NYC had declared that a season ago. Anyway, the volume of sales and the prices of condos and co-ops (I had a cond-op, ugh) fell sharply in Q3, in almost every real estate category in Manhattan. As the NYT points out, some of this was due to the transfer-tax rates for luxury apartments that went into effect in July. Volume of Sales in Q3 was down 14.2% year/year and median sales prices fell 8.2% to $1,025,000. Compass pointed out that in Q3, properties stayed an average of 152 days on the market, the longest since 2012. Back to that transfer-tax rate (also referred to as the ‘mansion tax’), it is a tax on sales above $1 million with staggered percentage tax from 1-3.9%, depending on the sales price of the property. A Michigan real estate agent’s “Scream” themed listing photos have gone viral. REALTOR Magazine reports that single-story ranch homes are becoming more desirable that they once were. Analysts expect lower mortgage rates to buoy buyer demand in the Fall months, as the bright spot in a worrisome economy. A new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that some buyers may be better off using a digital mortgage, which reduces discrimination. A new study says that 17% of young homebuyers regret their purchases.

Repo News:

I am guessing that this is the first time for many to actually scroll down to the Repo Market section of the Repo Commentary first, rather than Entertainment or Sports. Well, I guess that’s understandable. We have been experiencing those once-in-a-decade volatile periods in the Securities Finance Market that suddenly put the word “Repo” on the front pages of Bloomberg, WSJ, and NY Times, baffling hundreds of millions of people around the world. I intended to write this Repo Commentary a week ago, but got a deluge of calls from clients, colleagues, and media about the current state of affairs. It’s nice to be needed and the first call when there is trouble in our Securities Financing industry, to an extent.

I had to laugh when Invesco’s Vice Chairman of Investments, Krishna Memani, wrote on LinkedIn, “get a repo trader going and he will regale—and bore—you to death-with stories about the inner workings of the money market. And within 10 minutes, you will be talking about the repo market during the financial crisis as if it happened yesterday.” I think he was specifically directing that at me! Well, “repo” is the lubricant of the money market system, particularly the issuance of US Treasuries and other bonds, and it only comes up in conversation among non-participants when the gears start squeaking or fail to function, like yelling for WD 40. And, the last time the general public heard about “repo” it was during the Financial Crisis. Okay, there, I said it, I proved Mr. Memani right.

I know you’ve seen many articles on the subject of current repo market illiquidity and volatility, I’ve read them too. I think I can summarize them all and add my almost 37 years of experience in the Securities Finance market to lay out the causes and possible solutions.

To look at the WHY, one need look at what has happened since the Financial Crisis.

¥ The regulators, particularly the Federal Reserve, instituted emergency liquidity programs for different sectors of the money market (CP, Corporate Bonds, Broker/Dealers, GSEs, etc.). They eventually unwound those many programs.
¥ They opened up for a brief time the Discount Window to more participants and without the previous stigma attached, for collateral providers to access cash.
¥ They put FNMA and FHLMC into conservatorship.
¥ They began easing Monetary Policy massively for years.
¥ They began Quantitative Easing and built up the Fed’s balance sheet to $4.5 trillion. They added to it by buying more securities every month from the paydowns on their MBS portfolio.
¥ They propped up some broker/dealers, allowed some to fail, and helped others to consolidate/merge.
¥ The Repo Market shrunk in the US from about $7 trillion to $3 trillion, before recent increase to about $3.6 trillion.
¥ Regulators instituted mountains of new reforms, especially the 310 new rules of Dodd-Frank, globally to decrease the likelihood of systemic risk in the financial system and to force, particularly the broker/dealers and GSIB banks to hold more capital/reserves for liquidity.
¥ The market began looking for alternatives to financing through broker/dealers via CCPs, peer-to-peer financing, Sponsored Repo, and electronic trading platforms.
¥ The Fed began its much hailed RRP program, which added over 300 cash providers from the Repo market to finance the Fed’s balance sheet and provide ‘liquidity’ for those cash providers.
¥ The Fed stopped QE and began reducing their balance sheet down to $2.5 trillion.
¥ The US Treasury began ramping up issuance to the tune of about $1 trillion more, which is funneled through the 24 primary broker/dealers and the central banks.
¥ The Fed began tightening monetary policy and tinkering with new measures of repo rates and LIBOR replacement. They also began tinkering with the Interest on Excess Reserves (IOER) from banks and credit unions, to try to create higher reserves.
¥ The Fed did an about face and began easing monetary policy. They also lowered IOER.
That’s not everything that happened, but that gives you the broad strokes. And just in those bullet points, I see many of the contributing factors of the recent dislocation of the repo market. And, by the way, that actually refutes Mr. Memani’s later comment that “Nothing much has happened in the money markets since financial crisis. A lot more happened in those 11 years than happened in the 26 years that I was in the money markets.

I believe the reasons we had dislocations over the last week or so in repo rates, up as high as 10% the first day and 6% the second day, despite the Fed easing the target to 1.75%-2.00% the third day, and coming in with Overnight Open Market Operations (which they used to do daily—Customer RPs, System RPs, Match Sales—which was how we used to determined what they were doing with Monetary Policy, based on whether they were adding reserves or removing reserves and to what extent, but I won’t “bore” you), come down to a major imbalance of bank reserves, behavior not consistent with expectation, illiquidity in the repo market (rather than the highly touted increase in liquidity), concentration risk, a corporate tax date that removed cash from the repo market, humongous new supply of US treasuries being issued, many Repo market participants out of the Federal Reserve direct loop, and a mountain of hundreds of new regulations that broker/dealers (and others) are trying to still absorb and position reserves/capital, personnel, and trading strategies for. As you can see, there are a lot of balls in the air!

I’m not sure why participants and regulators didn’t foresee an imbalance (lack of) bank reserves. The piles of new regulations that regulators gave to the money markets fundamentally required banks to hold more reserves versus balance sheets (which repo is the major contributor to), the low yields may have encouraged banks to use reserves elsewhere in more profitable areas than repo (they are profit-motivated, as they should be), and the Fed lowered the IOER which may have disincented banks from depositing reserves at the Fed. The decrease in the Fed’s balance sheet came at the cost of the market absorbing those securities. The US Treasury issuing phenomenal amounts of securities that have to be taken by the 24 primary dealers (already full up on balance sheets they are trying to reduce) and the central banks/swfs (who already have $14 trillion of US Treasuries, should have been know as a potential clog in the system. Plus, with the Fed lowering rates, the returns on those US Treasuries would be lower for those new owners. And the central banks ownership of US Treasuries is another complicated story, one of ripple effects. They can’t really sell US Treasuries into this market, without having some issue with the US Government, whichever branch. But, yet, many of them need to support their currency, particularly against the US Dollar. So, some of them enter the Repo market to repo the US Treasuries to receive US Dollars to then buy their own currencies with, propping up their currency by kicking the can somewhat down the road, until their GDP rises or oil prices rise (raising their specific GDP). Layer over that macroeconomic soup a topping of trade wars and tariffs, it becomes rather complex to predict. And, that brings me to my last observation, that unintended consequences arose from the hundreds of regulations foisted on the money market, mainly because market behavior is not that predictive. Regulators thought that if they made the system safer, more investors would come in, but yet the repo market didn’t grow that much, but yet supply from the Fed and from the US Treasury increased dramatically. Regulators thought that if the banks had more reserves and capital, they would pass that on to the buyside, but that didn’t take into account their profit motivations and individual bank idiosyncricies. Lastly, the regulators didn’t expect the perfect storm of added supply, taxes withdrawn, cash out of the system, reserves lower, and tools that would work directly only on the 24 primary dealers and the 300 cash providers in RRP. I’ve been remarking for years, since the RRP, that there was not a comparable program for collateral providers/leveraged players in the Repo market. Steve Malekian went further to say, a year ago, that the newly touted liquidity of the Repo market was “only for Platinum accounts.” It was only for select buyside clients.

So, the Fed needs to do something. And, I don’t mean just the Overnight operations with the 24 primary dealers. I can’t even predict what those dealers’ positions are or how the added liquidity would flow to the buyside clients. The extra cash could be used to fund their Swaps desk, the Repo Desk, other outright traders, Platinum accounts, or speculatively with leveraged accounts (as a few savvy broker/dealers have seen that opportunity and gone short to reverse in at higher rates from leveraged accounts and supply balance sheet). The point is that the mound of regulations and the open market operations and the tinkering with the IOER are supposed to impact banks and broker/dealers in such a way to induce certain behavior, but behavior is unique. So, the Fed needs to go back to its ample toolkit (and get people who have been there at least 10 years) to:
¥ Implement more term RPs, to give the market some faith and reduce Fed reputational risk
¥ Purchase securities, either US Treasuries or Agency MBS, increasing the Fed balance sheet (although this may be difficult because there were probably several good reasons why they decreased it.)
¥ Open the Discount Window to more participants, with NO stigma attached (it used to be how one in the market knew who was having a liquidity crisis), and other sectors represented.
¥ Create a collateral provider facility, similar to RRP, or help reduce the hurdles, like CCLF for CCPs and Sponsored Repo type ventures to increase liquidity.
¥ Tinker the IOER rate UP, rather than down, to increase the Reserves at the Fed.
¥ Support/encourage Repo done outside of the 24 primary dealers, helping collateral providers find cash providers, when certain broker/dealers are balance sheet full and capital restrained from the very regulations that the Fed was involved in. I hope that didn’t come out too angry. I think systemic risk reduction is a huge priority and I am worried about firesale risk (although I don’t think moving the sale down the road to 7 days or 30 days changes firesale risk, it just changes the date of the firesale).
Okay, you made it through my diatribe. Sorry for the verbosity or if I ‘bored’ you. The bottom line is that the money markets, particularly the securities finance market (Repo & Securities Lending) is still trying to find its footing, particularly as the Repo market has shrunk, while Treasury supply has increased.

I still see the Repo and Securities Lending market as having changed in many permanent ways. We traditionally had a credit intermediator, the broker/dealers (originally just the primary broker/dealers) and later prime brokers, who were the pipeline through their respective repo matched books for ALL collateral providers to trade with cash providers, without the two sides ever knowing about each other or facing each other. That lack of knowledge of the other side of the dealers’ repo matched book came at a couple of costs, first, the bid/offer spread that went to the dealers, which has been volatile but certainly widened since the Financial Crisis, and second, the defaults of the Financial Crisis, which not only subjected clients to dealer defaults and wider spreads, but in many cases directly impacted clients by making them suddenly the outright traders of repo collateral. Some of that collateral, on top of it, was very illiquid. Not knowing who the other clients were on the other side of the dealers’ repo matched book, and who could potentially bring down those intermediary dealers was costly for many clients. Clearly, with that pipeline of is intermediation becoming severely crimped by post-Financial Crisis regulatory reforms, consolidation and bankruptcies, and the resulting drop of about 60% in balance sheets (which has recovered partially with new entrants to the market and international banks’ increases due to regulatory arbitrage) being used for broker/dealer respective repo matched books, new pathways/pipelines needed to be explored for cash provider and collateral provider clients. My former baby, AVM’s Direct Repo™, was the first of one of such pathways, over 10 years ago. Since then, many other liquidity pathways to these markets have been created, including: the Federal Reserve’s RRP program with cash providers, peer-to-peer financing as reported on Treasury OFR’s website between MMFs and Insurance Companies, As Agented repo through seclending agents and some prime brokers to buyside clients, direct lending from beneficial owners to hedge funds who are short via their agents, indemnified As Agent repo, buyside to buyside Triparty Repo through two international clearing organizations of their custodial clients, electronic all-to-all repo on a few electronic trading platforms like (Elixium, BNY DBVX, State Street’s Cash Cross), FICC’s sponsored repo and cleared repo products for certain sectors of the buyside into that CCP, dealer to dealer and some clients electronic trading platforms (like GLMX, HQLA, and Tradeweb), other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (particularly in Europe, like Eurex, LCH, OCC, CME, etc.), total return swaps platforms (like WeMatch.com), and collateralized loan exchanges like AFX/CBOE. There have still been other firms that have created some king of product that mimics a repo, but yet doesn’t show up on dealers’ balance sheets (so helps them), and/or provides better credit counterparties (so helps clients), and can take many forms. I believe this overall evolution will continue and eventually we will see all of these pathways used in some part, including the traditional pathway (to probably a lesser than historical degree) through the broker/dealers and prime brokers. Some of that balance sheet has returned, as I mentioned above, but maybe for only select ‘platinum’ clients and may come at a higher bid/offer spread or in specific, more profitable products/securities, as other market observers/experts have said.

Securities Finance Industry Conferences:

• Deutsche Borse/Clearstream held its annual conference this week in Luxembourg, which I attended last year.
• IMN 25th Beneficial Owners International Securities Finance and Collateral Management Conference was held in Fort Lauderdale, FL on 2/5-2/6. I was chosen as the Chairperson.
• Finadium held a new conference on the Business of Collateral Trading in Frankfurt, Germany on 2/21.
• IMN held its annual Fixed Income Investor Network in Las Vegas on 2/24.
• iMoneyNet held its annual MMExpo in Middleburg, VA 3/4-3/6.
• PASLA/RMA held its 16th annual Conference on Asian Securities Lending in Sydney, Australia 3/5-3/7.
• GIOA held its 15th annual conference in Las Vegas 3/20-3/22.
• Crane Data held its annual Bond Fund Symposium in Philadelphia on 3/25-3/26.
• Finadium held its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference in NYC on 5/2-5/3.
• GFOA held its 113th annual conference in Los Angeles on 5/19-5/22.
• Securities Lending Times held its annual Securities Finance Technology Symposium in London on 5/9.
• IMN held its annual Global ABS conference in Barcelona, Spain on 6/11-6/13.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income Leaders USA Summit in Philadelphia, PA on 6/18-6/20.
• ISLA held its Securities Finance and Collateral Management conference in Madrid this week.
• Crane Data held its annual Money Fund Symposium on 6/24-6/26 in Boston.
• Hedge Fund Association held its Rooftop Social in NYC on 6/27.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income & FX Leader Summit in Singapore on 9/17-9/19.
• IHS Markit in conjunction with Opal Group will hold a Securities Finance Forum in NYC on 9/17.
• IMN will hold its annual ABS East conference in Miami Beach, FL on 9/22-9/24.
• IMN will hold its annual European Securities Finance conference in London on 9/25-9/26.
• Crane Data will hold its annual European Money Fund Symposium in Dublin, Ireland on 9/23-24.
• Finadium will hold its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference Europe in London on 9/24.
• National Association of State Treasurers will hold its annual conference in Naples, FL on 10/6-10/9.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its Fixed Income Leaders conference in Barcelona on 10/7-10/9.
• RMA will hold its 37th annual Conference on Securities Finance and Collateral Management in Boca Raton, FL on October 14-17. I will be seeing many of you there/here. I haven’t missed an RMA and I’m not going to start now!
• American Financial Professionals (AFP) will hold its gigantic annual conference in Boston, MA on 10/20-10/23.
• Finadium will hold its Rates & Repo conference in New York on 11/4
• Risk.net will hold its 25th annual Risk USA conference in NYC on November 5-6.
• SIFMA will hold its annual Meeting in Washington, DC on 11/18-11/20.

Federal Reserve News:

The Fed Funds rate, which is still the target rate of Federal Reserve monetary policy and changes to which are made by and announced by the FOMC at regularly scheduled meetings, is currently set at 1.75-2.00% (remember, the Fed has been using a target ‘range’ for a while), after the FOMC lowered it on 7/31/19 and again on 9/18/19. The Effective Fed Funds Rate (EFFR), as reported by the Federal Reserve, was 1.88% on 10/1/19.

The Overnight Bank Funding Rate (OBFR), is also published by the NY Fed to capture the volume-weighted median of overnight federal funds transactions, Eurodollar transactions, and the domestic deposits reported by banks. That rate on 10/1/19 was 1.85%.

The Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) is supposed to be a broad measure of the cost of borrowing cash overnight collateralized by US Treasury securities. It is also reported by the NY Fed on its website. It has been controversial and has been considered as a possible replacement for LIBOR. SOFR includes trades in the Broad General Collateral Rate of Repo plus bilateral Treasury Repo transactions cleared through the DVP services at CCP FICC, ostensibly filtering out issues trading Special. However, critics (and I am one) say that it only picks up the Offered Side of Repo (not a median), that it only picks up the small amount of DVP transactions cleared at FICC and Triparty Repo done at Bank of NY, ignoring the growing amount of bilateral (non-Triparty) repo being done peer-to-peer, dealer-to-dealer, and client-to-dealer, outside of FICC. It is a good representation of where Money Funds (except for a few savvy ones who trade peer-to-peer) are paid on their cash versus US Treasuries in Repo each day by broker/dealers. It almost completely ignores other sectors, particularly buyside clients with collateral. That all being said, the current SOFR reported by the Fed for 10/1/19 was 1.88%.

The next FOMC meetings are: 10/30/19, 12/11/19, 1/29/20.

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (mostly banks, GSEs, and MMFs) is used as a tool by the Federal Reserve, along with its Fed Funds target-setting monetary policy, and IOER for depository institutions, to help control short-term interest rates. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight. Remember when RRP was trading at year-end for $465 billion? Well, on 5/15/19, there was only $20 million in bids submitted. MMF cash and GSE cash has moved out of the Fed’s RRP and into the Repo market. So, if RRP is not extinct, it is certainly now dormant, occasionally coming out of hibernation for year-ends and quarter-ends, when liquidity becomes very strange.

In December 2018, at the FOMC meeting, the Federal Reserve signaled that it would raise the benchmark Fed Funds rate to 2.50% at the December FOMC meeting, 3.00% in 2019, and 3.50% in 2020. If you are keeping score, the Federal Reserve raised the Fed Funds target rate on these dates so far:

12/15/15 to 0.50%
12/14/16 to 0.75%
3/5/17 to 1.00%
6/14/17 to 1.25%
12/13/17 to 1.50%
3/21/18 to 1.75%
6/13/18 to 2.00%
9/26/18 to 2.25%
12/13/18 to 2.50%

But, then the Federal Reserve paused. Suddenly, on 7/31/19, the Fed eased the Fed Funds target rate to 2.25%, and then did another rate cut by 0.25% to 2.00% on 9/18/19. Technically, that rate is the top end of a 25bp rate spread that the Fed considers its current target rate (1.75%-2.00%). The reversal in monetary policy is expected to continue, with perhaps one more rate cut by the Fed in 2019.

Quantitative Easing was ‘tapered off’ in 2013. The Fed still had $4 trillion of debt in 2017 on its books from that QE. In October 2017, it began allowing those holdings to gradually decline. For reference, the Fed Funds target rate was 5.25% before the Fed cut of 9/18/2007, at or near the beginning of the Financial Crisis.

I personally think the Federal Reserve (and the US Treasury) could use an industry consultant with nearly 37 years of experience in the securities financing market and who has worked extensively in sell-side, buy-side, and vender firms, giving him/her a unique and neutral perspective. I know someone like that.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

Globally, the Earth’s crust is still very active, especially along the Pacific Rim and in Chile. These are just the earthquakes over the last 3 days! Latest strong earthquakes (4.5 magnitude and above):

10/2 4.8 81km SE of San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
10/2 5.1 196km W of Abepura, Indonesia
10/2 5.0 66km NNE of Xujiaba, China
10/2 4.7 Carlsberg Ridge
10/2 5.2 39km S of San Mateo del Mar, Mexico
10/2 4.7 147km W of Coquimbo, Chile
10/2 4.8 223km E of Yamada, Japan
10/1 5.2 Southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge
10/1 5.5 91km SSW of Macquarie Island
10/1 4.6 79km NW of San Antonio de los Colores, Argentina
10/1 4.5 241km SE of Amahai, Indonesia
10/1 4.5 46km SSE of Caucete, Argentina
10/1 5.2 Broken Ridge
10/1 4.9 254km NNW of Farallon de Pajaros, Nothern Mariana Islands
10/1 5.3 37km SE of Wairoa, New Zealand
10/1 5.9 Southern East Pacific Rise
9/30 4.5 9km NE of Cruz Grande, Mexico
9/30 4.6 58km ESE of Madang, Papua New Guinea
9/30 5.0 94km ESE of Ol’ga, Russia
9/30 4.6 128km SW of Kokopo, Papua New Guinea
9/30 4.7 142km SSE of Lambasa, Fiji
9/30 4.7 140km SSE of Lambasa, Fiji
9/30 4.5 45km N of Arzak, China
9/30 5.6 40km NE of Calama, Chile
9/30 4.7 Kuril Islands
9/30 4.8 158km WNW of Constitucion, Chile
9/30 4.7 42km ESE of General Luna, Philippines
9/30 4.7 50km WSW of Constitucion, Chile
9/30 4.9 121km SW of Kokopo, Papua New Guinea

Weather:

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began June 1st and ends November 30th. For 2018, Colorado State University experts had predicted an above average season of 14 named Tropical Storms, of which 7 would become Hurricanes. Both are above the averages of 12 and 6, respectively. But, there were 15 named Tropical Storms, of which 8 were hurricanes, and 2 of them major. So, they underestimated.

Hurricane officials were warning Floridians to prepare in advance of the 2019 storm season. There are several national meteorological services and scientific agencies that forecast how many named storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes (above Category 3). TSR, CSU, and The Weather Company were similar numbers, while NCU was higher. CSU has been the most used and they forecast for 2019 a near-average season of 13 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes. We have already had 12 named storms, and have only just reached the historically busiest month. Hurricane Lorenzo is bearing down on Ireland and Great Britain, having spun North and East from the Caribbean. It still has 80mph winds.

The Hurricane names for the 2019 North Atlantic season are:

Andrea-x
Barry-x
Chantal-x
Dorian-x
Erin-x
Fernand-x
Gabrielle-x
Humberto-x
Imelda-x
Jerry-x
Karen-x
Lorenzo-x
Melissa
Nestor
Olga
Pablo
Rebekah
Sebastian
Tanya
Van
Wendy

The Pacific Hurricane Season started 5/1/18 and ends 11/1/18.

Eastern North Pacific currently has no activity to report, after just having 3 tropical cyclones come through. Central North Pacific currently has no activity to report.

As for the weather, starting with the heat, after setting an all-time Florida record high average temperature for May, June and July, respectively, temperatures have moderated slightly, by about 5-10 degrees, bringing down the daily heat indices of 105-110. However, after two months of nearly daily thunderstorms, most counties of Florida (including Palm Beach County) set a 100-year record DRY September, with only 1.39 inches of rain here in PBC. I’m sure you saw that wedding picture from Washington State this weekend, in which it snowed on the bride and groom. A massive snowstorm dumped 4 feet of snow on Montana this weekend. Early snows are being seen in the Pacific Northwest and the Rockies. Temperatures are plummeting into the 20s and 30s. Rain is expected over the Plain States, Texas, and Louisiana, where temperatures will be in the 60s and 70s. New York and New England will see rain, some mix, and snow in northern Maine, where temperatures will range between 30s and 50s. Florida should see a pick up in rain and hopefully a lessening of the last 5 days of 30mph winds. Temperatures should moderate in the mid-to-high 80s. The South has been so hot for months that there is now a ‘flash drought’.

Sports News:

MLB:

The MLB regular season began 3/28 this year and ended on 9/30 (more than 6 months). The Postseason will now begin with one game Wild Card playoffs in both the AL and the NL, then the Wild Card winner against one of the Division winners in both Leagues, followed by Division Championships, and ultimately, the World Series, of the best of the AL and the NL. The 2018 World Series Champion Red Sox did not start well, suffered injuries to starting pitching and loss of both closers to free agency, and became the tenth team to win a World Series and not make the Playoffs the following year. Not unexpectedly, they fired their 3-year GM Dave Dumbowski. They have a lot of key players who will become free agents after the 2020 season, which poses the question of whether they will keep them to win one more time, or follow owner John Henry’s plan to lower payroll for the team and trade key players for the future. This will likely be as painful an off-season for us Red Sox fans, as it was a regular season. The Red Sox president has admitted it will be “difficult” to keep both Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez. I think the majority of you readers are Yankee fans (although I never took a poll), so you’re ecstatic that the Yankees have indeed made the Postseason and are one of the strongest contenders, after having fallen just short in 2018.

The Red Sox were obviously not the only team expected to do well that did not do well in 2019, as is evidenced by the 16% drop in MLB attendance in 2019 over 2018. The end of a sports regular season is always coupled with a list of fired coaches and managers and GMs. Here is 2019’s casualty list (and available positions):

¥ Cubs manager-Joe Maddon
¥ Pirates manager-Clint Hurdle
¥ Angels manager-Brad Ausmus
¥ Royals manager
¥ Giants manager-Bruce Bochy
¥ Padres manager-Andy Green
¥ Red Sox GM-Dave Dombrowski
¥ Mets manager-Mickey Callaway

Looking ahead to the playoffs, the Astros had the best record in the AL, beating out the Yankees and Twins. So, the A’s played the Rays in the one-game Wild Card playoff, while the Astros waited for the winner of that game. The Rays won 5-1, eliminating the A’s from the postseason. The Yankees will play the Twins, who they have owned recently. The Indians and Red Sox fell short of the Wild Card playoffs. Today, the ALDS best of 5 series begin with the Rays at the Astros and the Twins at the Yankees. In the NL, the Dodgers, by far, had the best record, over the Braves. The NL Wild Card Playoff game was between the red hot Nationals and the Brewers, who were just eclipsed by the Cardinals for the NL Central. The Nationals had just beaten the Brewers in and exciting game of the final season. Then, on Tuesday night they repeated with another exciting close win over the Brewers, 4-3, eliminating the Brewers from the postseason. The Nationals will now face the Dodgers, and in fact lost Game 1 of their best of 5 NLDS 6-0 on Thursday night. Game 2 is tonight. Meanwhile, the Braves now play Cardinals, and actually lost Game 1 7-6 on Thursday night, in their best of 5 NLDS. Game 2 is tonight. The Mets, Diamondbacks, and Cubs fell short of the Playoffs. Interestingly, the A’s have as many wins as every National League playoff team except the Dodgers and the Rays have more wins than the Cardinals, Nationals, and Brewers. So, the AL overall has stronger records than the NL it was a small triumph that the Nationals, perennially strong starters and analysts’ favorites, finally made the Playoffs. And they had to beat the Brewers in the last game of the season to make it, which is ironic, since that’s their opponent in the one-game Wild Card Playoff too.

The Giants are planning to move their bullpens behind the outfield wall, reducing foul territory and will change Oracle Park. The Nationals offered Anthony Rendon a massive 7-year/$200 million extension. A Houston businessman has bet $3.5 million on the Astros to win the World Series.

Golf:

The FedEx Cup finally ended with Rory McIlroy winning the $15 million check. The PGA Tour took a 15-day break after that, then resumed the Fall season, with 11 tournaments. On Wednesday, World No.1 Brooks Koepka revealed that he recently (after the Tour Championship) underwent stem-cell treatment to repair a partially torn patella tendon in his left knee. That’s why he didn’t practice before any non-major tournament last year, because of the pain. This week, the PGA Tour is at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, where Koepka will debut for his 2019-2020 season. Koepka was also given the Player of the Year Award for 2018-2019. He made it clear in the press conference that he doesn’t play for awards, he plays for titles. The European Tour unveiled its schedule for 2020 season:

¥ 11/28-12/1/19 Hong Kong Open
¥ 11/28-12/1/19 Alfred Dunhill Championship
¥ 12/5-12/8/19 Afrasia Bank Mauritius Open
¥ 12/19-12/22/19 Australian PGA Championship
¥ 1/9-1/12/20 South African Open
¥ 1/16-1/19 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
¥ 1/23-1/26 Omega Dubai Desert Classic
¥ 1/30-2/2 Saudi International
¥ 2/6-2/9 ISPS Handa Vic Open
¥ 2/20-2/23 WGC-Mexico Championship
¥ 2/27-3/1 Oman Open
¥ 3/5-3/8 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters
¥ 3/12-3/15 Magical Kenya
¥ 3/19-3/22 Hero Indian Open
¥ 3/25-3/29 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
¥ 4/9-4/12 The Masters
¥ 4/16-4/19 Maybank Championship
¥ 4/23-4/26 Volvo China Open
¥ 4/30-5/3 Estrella D. Andalucia Masters
¥ 5/9-5/10 GolfSixes Cascals
¥ 5/14-5/17 US PGA Championship
¥ 5/21-5/24 Made in Denmark
¥ 5/28-5/31 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open
¥ 6/4-6/7 Trophee Hassan II
¥ 6/11-6/14 Scandinavian Invitation
¥ 6/18-6/21 US Open
¥ 6/25-6/28 BMW International Open
¥ you have to believe that I had no idea this would be so long and that I just wanted to be helpful/informational…
¥ 7/2-7/5 Open de France
¥ 7/2-7/5 WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational
¥ 7/9-7/12 Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open
¥ 7/16-7/19 The 149th Open (British Open)
¥ 7/30-8/2 Betfred British Masters
¥ 7/30-8/2 Olympic Men’s Golf Competition
¥ 8/6-8/9 UK event
¥ 8/20-8/23 D+D Real Czech Masters
¥ 8/27-8/30 Omega European Masters
¥ 9/3-9/6 Porsche European Open
¥ at least I can keep this in the Commentary and just update it for the next year…
¥ 9/10-9/13 BMW PGA Championship
¥ 9/17-9/20 KLM Open
¥ 9/25-9/27 The 2020 Ryder Cup
¥ 10/1-10/4 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
¥ 10/8-10/11 Italian Open
¥ 10/15-10/18 Mutuactivos Open de Espana
¥ 10/22-10/25 Portugal Masters
¥ 10/29-11/1 WGC-HSC Champions
¥ 11/5-11/8 Turkish Airlines Open
¥ 11/12-11/15 Nedbank Golf Challenge
¥ 11/19-11/22 DP World Tour Championship

NFL:

The 99th NFL regular season ended with the New England Patriots beating the Los Angeles Rams in a defensive battle 13-3 in the Super Bowl. The 100th NFL season began 4 games/weeks ago. It has been remarkable for low-scoring defensive battles, a few blowouts, and a remarkable number of starting QB injuries (7)! It has also featured more than the usual number of bad record/bad teams. Currently, there are 6 winless teams and several others that are just flailing. This, so far, has been a season that LACKS parity, maybe because of free agency or weird events. I can’t go on, without mentioning superstar WR Antonio Brown. So, he was one of the 3 stars of the Pittsburgh Steelers, until he became a problem in contract negotiations, and was traded to the Raiders. There, he became a problem in showing up for practice, in wearing his new protective helmet, in fighting with his coaches, and being accused of sexual battery. Even the Raiders, who have historically had their share of bad boys, decided to end their relationship with AB. He was snatched up by the Patriots, who were already full of superstar WRs. He lasted one game and one TD, before more charges against him appeared, and the Pats cut their losses. He is still hoping to be hired by another NFL team this season, while his legal battles continue in court. I was actually shocked that the Patriots picked up AB on waivers, given the charges against him, until one of my wiseguy friends said “hey, aren’t the Patriots the team that had a tight end who killed someone during a bye week in a season?” That shut me up.

So, let me tell you what I think about each team, so far, in 2019, this early in the season. So far, I’ve survived my pool (I really hate to call it a ‘suicide pool’, I wish they had a better term for it, I’m going to call it a ‘survivor pool’). If you have one of those ‘survivor pools’ too, then it hasn’t hurt you to take whatever team is playing the lowly Dolphins, despite this past weekend’s first half against the Chargers. That was only because I picked the Chargers and the Chargers decided not to play a healthy star RB Melvin Gordon. Of course, this week, the Dolphins have a bye, so I need to find another underperformer to lose to a good team. But, the Dolphins haven’t been the only disappointing NFL team in the AFC East. The Jets, with new superstar bizarre holdout Le’Veon Bell (and I love him from the Spartans), are awful. Sorry, they just are. The Bengals, who have usually contended with the Steelers in the AFC North, are 0-4 and just got pummeled Monday night by their rival Steelers, who are now without Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, and QB Big Ben. I’m not sure who is still on the Steelers’ roster. Oh, let’s go back to the starting QB issue in the NFL. So, for the 4th year in a row, the NFL decides to institute QB protection rules and penalties that basically limit a defender to tackle a QB only while he has the ball, between the shoulders and the hip, without the helmet, with no arm or hand to the face, only when he has the ball, and without putting his weight on him. So, probably more than half of the sacks in NFL history would have been penalized. And, yet, with such protection for arguably the most important player in the game (don’t get me started on placekickers!), has in 4 weeks, yielded 7 of 32 starting QBs injured, some for the entire season. That’s like high repo rates, despite Fed inter…oh, never mind. So, if you are fans of these teams, many perennial playoff teams, you are no doubt biting your nails down to the core, watching guys you don’t know who are either journeymen or the guy you just drafted from college: Steelers, Saints, Bills, Bears, Panthers, Colts (retired unexpectedly from injuries), Jets, Raiders, and Jaguars. Hmmm, that was 9 teams. The Raiders apparently had another problem on their hands, as longtime rule-violator, Vontaze Burfict, hit a defenseless receiver in the head in the last game, against the Colts, and was ejected. Then, the NFL decided it had had enough and suspended him for the rest of the season without pay. Just to pour salt in Coach Jon Gruden’s wounds, Bears’ all-star LB Khalil Mack, who the Raiders traded for 3 draft picks, says he expected to be a Raider “for a long haul.” He gets to play against his former team, as a Bear, next Sunday, in London. More Gruden news, A. Stephens is hearing rumors that Jon’s brother, Jay, may get fired as coach of the winless Redskins. Reportedly, Patriots’ placekicker, Stephen Gostkowski, who missed a rare 4 kicks in a row (field goals and points after) needs season-ending surgery. The Raiders and Bears will be playing in London this Sunday. Longtime Cardinals owner, Bill Bidwell (ironically one of my nicknames in the Biz), has died at age 88. Bears LB Roquan Smith is back at practice and may be ready to play Week 5 in London. Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill is resuming practice after his shoulder injury. Colts GM is raving about QB Jacoby Brissett, Tom Brady’s former backup. Hmmm, and the Colts are playing the Chiefs…

After just 4 weeks:

AFC East-the Patriots are 4-0, but the Bills have shown some great defense and are 3-1.

AFC North-the Cleveland Browns, expected to excel this year, have managed to be 2-2, tied with the strong offense of the Baltimore Ravens.

AFC South-the Houston Texans, also expected to be stronger, have managed to be 2-2, tied with the Luckless Colts, Foles-less Jaguars, and Titans.

AFC West-the KC Chiefs have gone undefeated 4-0 over the first 4 weeks, but it wasn’t always easy. The rest of the division is at least 2 games behind.

NFC East-the Cowboys have come out roaring at 3-1, ahead of the perennially strong Eagles, and suddenly struggling Redskins.

NFC North-the Packers have been surprisingly strong and the Bears are relying on their defense. The Lions and the Vikings have surprisingly stumbled.
NFC South-the Saints, after losing the other GOAT, QB Drew Brees, have somehow managed to stay atop the division at 3-1.. The Bucs have been surprisingly strong, just beating the Rams in a shootout. The Panthers are hanging on without QB Cam Newton, but the Falcons are underwhelming.

NFC West-the 49ers have become the real deal, rebuilding in just 2 years, now at 3-0. The Seahawks were expected to reign, but stumbled out of the gate, and are now 3-1, tied with the Rams, who have been inconsistent. The Cardinals are in disarray.

The AAF, which was co-founded by Charlie Ebersol, and supported by the NFL as a developmental league, was folded by the NFL just 6 games into the Spring season this year. It is not to be confused with the XFL, which was launched 17 years ago, by Dick Ebersol of NBC, Charlie’s father. The XFL will re-launch in 2020.

In case you are already looking forward to Super Bowl LIV, which will be held here in Miami, tickets and TD club package start at $5000 per person. Other packages start at $10,000 per person.

NCAA Football:

We have now played 5 weeks of the 15-week regular season. It was really weird starting out without Alabama on top of the AP Top 25 poll, where they perennially start at No.1. But, since Clemson won the BCS National Championship last year, they were No.1 to start the season. However, Alabama is back up there at No.1 again. Some serious excitement already, especially with Monday’s news of California’s Fair Pay to Play Act, which will allow college athletes to be paid for endorsements (profiting off their name, image, and likeness), sell autographs and merchandise, accept endorsement deals, and hire agents, starting in 2023. Maybe the most important/profitable part will be that they can sell their image to appear in a college sports video game. The last licensed college football video game came out in 2013. The last licensed college basketball video game came out in 2009. There are still 14 undefeated teams in the Top 25.

The current AP Top 25 Poll:
1. Alabama
2. Clemson
3. Georgia
4. Ohio State
5. LSU
6. Oklahoma
7. Auburn
8. Wisconsin
9. Notre Dame
10. Florida
11. Texas
12. Penn State
13. Oregon
14. Iowa
15. Washington
16. Boise State
17. Utah
18. UCF
19. Michigan
20. Arizona State
21. Oklahoma State
22. Wake Forest
23. Virginia
24. SMU
25. Michigan State (okay it’s really Texas A&M in this poll)

Week 6 games to watch (especially with *):

*No.18 UCF @ Cincinnati
Utah State @ No.5 LSU
*No.6 Oklahoma @ Kansas
*No.14 Iowa @ No.19 Michigan
*No.21 Oklahoma State @ Texas Tech
Kent State @ No.8 Wisconsin
Purdue @ No.12 Penn State
*No.11 Texas @ West Virginia
*No.7 Auburn @ No.10 Florida
Bowling Green @ No.9 Notre Dame
No.3 Georgia @ Tennessee
No.25 Michigan State @ No.4 Ohio State
Tulsa @ No.24 SMU
Cal @ No.13 Oregon
No.16 Boise State @ UNLV
No.15 Washington @ Stanford

NHL:

The puck dropped on the regular season, for some of the 31 teams, on 10/3/18. It ended in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals on 6/12, when the St. Louis Blues beat my Bruins 4-3 in the Finals. The Blues were in last place in their division in January and wound up winning it all. The Blues gave their superfan, Laila Anderson, a Stanley Cup championship ring. The NHL is finishing up free agency signings. This season began Wednesday 10/2/19 for 8 of the 31 teams. Jets journeyman, Lee Stempniak, has retired. Sharks’ Evander Kane begins the season with a 3-game suspension for abusing and shoving an official. Canucks Sven Baertschi has been waived. The Hurricanes have named new captain, Jordan Staal. Flames signed Tobias Rieder and Zac Rinaldo to one-year deals. Kyle Connor and Jets agreed to 7year/$50 million contract. Avalanche and Mikko Rantanen agree to 6-year/$55.5 million deal. Sidney Crosby’s number will be retired across QMJHL.

NBA:

The NBA season officially began on 10/3/18 as well. It officially ended with the underdogs, the Toronto Raptors, ousting the favorite Golden State Warriors in six games. This year, the NBA season does not start until 10/22/19. Dwight Howard has been impressive in Lakers camp. Warriors star Klay Thompson won’t return until after All-Star break.

Olympics:

The hype for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo has officially begun. You may have already heard that there will be some new sports added and some sports returning. The Olympic Channel has announced that it will present 300 hours of coverage of the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics in Lausanne, from January 9 to January 22. In those 13 days, 1,880 athletes will compete in 8 sports across 16 disciplines in 81 medal events. New events will include monobob bobsleigh and ski mountaineering.

Tennis:

US Open winner, Bianca Andreescu, just posted her 16th straight win. No.1 Djokovic is continuing his Tokyo title quest, at the ATP Tokyo, 4 weeks after his US Open. Nadal, Federer, and Murray are at the ATP Beijing China Open, which is also being played now.

Horse Racing:

Los Angeles could soon be the first major city to ban horse racing. The Breeders Cup will be at Santa Anita Park 11/1 and 11/2.

Racing:

Last year’s champion, his first, for the NASCAR Cup Series was Joey Logano, who beat Martin Truex Jr. in the final 15 laps of the final race at Homestead. Truex Jr. won the crown in 2017. The 2019 regular season has just completed and the Playoffs are in full gear. Here is the complete schedule of races for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup in 2019 and the results:

2/17 Daytona 500, won by Denny Hamlin
2/24 Atlanta, QuickTrip 500, won by Brad Keselowski
3/3 Las Vegas-Joey Logano
3/10 ISM Raceway-Kyle Busch
3/17 Auto Club-Kyle Busch
3/24 Martinsville-Brad Keselowski
3/31 Texas-Denny Hamlin
4/7 Bristol-Kyle Busch
4/13 Richmond-Martin Truex Jr.
4/28 Talladega-Chase Elliott
5/5 Dover-won by Martin Truex Jr.
5/11 Kansas-won by Brad Keselowski
5/18 All-Star Open Charlotte-won by Austin Dillon
5/26 Charlotte, Coca-Cola 600-won by Martin Truex Jr.
6/2 Pocono, Pocono 400-won by Kyle Busch
6/9 Michigan, Firekeepers Casino 400-won by Joey Logano
6/23 Sonoma, Save Mart 350-won by Martin Truex Jr.
6/30 Chicago, Camping World 400-won by Alex Bowman
7/7 Daytona, Coke Zero 400-won by Austin Haley
7/13 Kentucky, Quaker State 400-won by Kurt Busch
7/21 New Hampshire, Foxwoods Resort Casino 301-won by Kevin Harvick
7/28 Pocono, Gander RV 400-Denny Hamlin
8/4 Watkins Glen, GoBowling at The Glen-Chase Elliott
8/11 Michigan, Consumers Energy 400-Kevin Harvick
8/17 Bristol, Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race-Denny Hamlin
9/1 Darlington, Bojangles’ Southern 500-Erik Jones
9/8 Indianapolis, Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard-Kevin Harvick
9/15 Las Vegas playoff-South Point 400-Martin Truex, Jr.
9/21 Richmond playoff-Martin Truex, Jr.
9/29 Charlotte playoff-Chase Elliott
10/6 Dover playoff
10/13 Talladega playoff
10/20 Kansas playoff
10/27 Martinsville playoff
11/3 Texas playoff
11/10 ISM Raceway playoff
11/17 Miami-Homestead final playoff

Formula One began with F1 Car Launch Dates for the various teams from 2/12 through 2/15 for Renault, Racing Point, McLaren, and Ferrari. That was followed by Pre-Season Testing schedule 2/18-2/21 and 2/26-3/1, both in Catalunya, Spain. Here is the 2019 Formula One 21 Race calendar and results (it might be easier to just say which races were not won by Lewis Hamilton):

3/17 Australia Grand Prix in Melbourne-won by V. Bottas
3/31 Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir-won by Lewis Hamilton
4/14 China Grand Prix in Shanghai (this will be the 1000th Grand Prix)-won by Lewis Hamilton
4/28 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku-won by V. Bottas
5/12 Spain Grand Prix in Barcelona-won by Lewis Hamilton
5/26 Monaco Grand Prix in Monaco-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/9 Canada Grand Prix in Montreal-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/23 France Grand Prix in Le Castellet-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/30 Austria Grand Prix in Spielberg-won by Max Verstappen
7/14 Great Britain Grand Prix in Silverstone-won by Lewis Hamilton
7/28 Germany Grand Prix in Hockenheim-won by Max Verstappen
8/4 Hungary Grand Prix in Budapest-Lewis Hamilton
9/1 Belgium Grand Prix in Spa-Charles Leclerc
9/8 Italy Grand Prix in Monza-Charles Leclerc
9/22 Singapore Grand Prix in Singapore-Sebastian Vettel
9/29 Russia Grand Prix in Sochi-Lewis Hamilton
10/13 Japan Grand Prix in Suzuka
10/27 Mexico Grand Prix in Mexico City
11/3 USA Grand Prix in Austin, TX
11/17 Brazil Grand Prix in Sao Paulo
12/1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Yas Island

Here is the IndyCar Racing circuit and its 2019 calendar and results (Indy cars are generally considered faster than F1 car along straight lines, mostly because their races are on oval tracks, while F1 tracks are more intricate, requiring better brakes and more aerodynamic grip than Indy cars). The season just ended, with Josef Newgarden coming in 8th in the last race, to just edge out Simon Pagenaud for championship:

3/10 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg-Josef Newgarden
3/24 Circuit of the Americas-Colton Herta
4/7 Grand Prix of Alabama-Takuma Sato
4/14 Grand Prix at Long Beach-Alexander Rossi
5/11 Grand Prix of Indianapolis-Simon Pagenaud
5/26 Indianapolis 500-Simon Pagenaud
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 1-Josef Newgarden
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 2-Scott Dixon
6/8 Texas Grand Prix-Josef Newgarden
6/23 Road America-Alexander Rossi
7/14 Honda Indy Toronto-Simon Pagenaud
7/20 Iowa 300-Josef Newgarden
7/28 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio-Scott Dixon
8/18 Pocono Grand Prix-Will Power (I love that name!)
8/24 Gateway Grand Prix-Takuma Sato
9/1 Grand Prix of Portland-Will Power (that’s all it takes)
9/22 Grand Prix at Laguna Seca-Colton Herta

Travel News:

Legoland just announced the opening date of its New York resort: July 4, 2020. It will be the largest LegoLand ever built, containing seven themed lands packed with more than 50 rides, attractions, and events over 150 acres. More than 15,000 Lego models will be shipped to the New York location from around the world. A 28-year-old tourist died after climbing over the safety barrier at Grand Canyon Skywalk. For your Wedding Registry at Bed Bath & Beyond, you can now add spa getaways, goat yoga, and shark cage diving. A Delta employee at JFK has been arrested, after a bag containing $258,205 in cash went missing. Saudi Arabia is issuing tourist visas for the first time ever. China just opened the world’s largest airport, Beijing Daxing International Airport. It measures more than 700,000 square meters. Congress is considering a bill that would abolish “unfair and deceptive’”resort fees. Ski.com has an incredible new ‘dream job’ for 12 lucky people to travel the world and check out beaches and ski destinations, and they’ll pay you $2200/month. Virgin Atlantic has now debuted a new plane that has an onboard lounge. Pressure mounts on GM to make a deal, as the autoworker strike there has dragged into its 19th day.

Health News:

Okay, I’m ready for you Northerners to invade for the RMA conference in October in Boca Raton, and the snowbirds to come down, as I got my flu shot two weeks ago. Government agencies are sounding the alarm over lead paint and want home buyers to take these dangers seriously and address remediation more quickly. Your new favorite Christmas candy is predicted to be new Sweet Cinnamon Kit Kat bars. This week, you can get McDonald’s Big Macs delivered straight to your door for just one cent. There are now 3 FDA-approved medications to treat opioid addiction in the US: methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. But, doctors consistently underutilize them. The Mayo Clinic Proceedings review says that of the patients who qualify for the FDA-recommended medications to treat OUD, only 11% actually receive them. For teenage patients, that percentage is frighteningly lower, at 2.4%. Opioid use, particularly among teenagers, has hit epidemic proportions, according to a study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. Here are the figures: in 2017, 900 adolescents began misusing opioids daily. Out of more than 750,000 adolescents who misused opioids in 2018, 12.8%, or roughly 99,000 teens reported symptoms of OUD. Specifically for heroin addiction, only 2.4% of adolescents get treatment with these medications, while more than 26% of adults get treatment with these medications. Hepatitis A outbreaks have flared up across the USA. The vaping crisis has now caused over 1,000 adolescents to wind up in hospitals in the US with respiratory problems, as the FDA and CDC search for the cause. Hopefully, you are reading this soon enough to take advantage of various free taco deals today, National Taco Day (Friday).

Animal News:

On Tuesday, a woman decided she needed to climb into the lion enclosure at the Bronx Zoo and face off with a large male lion, even dancing and taunting the baffled animal. Surprisingly, the animal was so stunned, it just stood and stared at her, until authorities were able to lure it away. It must have been the particular dance steps. Authorities have yet to find the woman, however, even though she posted a rap video online. Adult sea otters at the Monterey Bay Aquarium are adopting orphaned babies. Airbnb is now offering experiences to spend time with and learn about animals. An East Alabama woman has been charged with 47 counts of animal cruelty. Two people were injured in a Colorado elk attack. Of course they were filming too close to the wild animal. Scientists recently discovered that tiny tardigrades are notoriously tough and actually could weather extreme conditions, including nuclear attack, freezing cold, boiling heat, and the vacuum and lethal radiation of space. Scientists located the key ingredient in tardigrades’ arsenal of superpowers and identified it as a damage-suppressor protein called Dsup. Researchers have previously noted that when Dsup was added to human cells, they became safeguarded against damage from X-rays. Now, scientists have discovered that Dsup binds to chromosome structures and protects DNA from the harmful effects of radiation. A trail runner at Antelope Island State Park in Utah was gored by a charging bison in a ‘freak attack’, last Friday, and then his date suffered the same fate. Even though it’s making the news a lot lately, attacks by bison are extremely rare. In just that park in Utah, there are about 700 bison and in the last 10 years, about 4 million people have visited the park, with just 5 bison incidents. Bison are prey, not predators, but become aggressive during mating season (July-September) and will usually charge, but sometimes hit, to defend what they feel is a safe space near them. Since 1980, bison have injured more people in Yellowstone National Park than any other animal has. The experts say don’t try to outrun a bison, because they can reach speeds of about 35 mph. Try to go back the way you came. Taking on the controversial issues of today, I report that there are worms (nematodes) that have 3 sexes thriving in an arsenic-laced lake in California. A walrus attacked and sank a Russian tugboat last week. No nationality was determined for the walrus. Now, that the last male Northern White Rhino has died, leaving just 2 females, scientists have created embryos from the eggs of the last living females in a lab. A newly described species of giant pterosaur (I think pterodactyl), Cryodrakon boreas, was recently identified from fossils found in Canada, and has been nicknamed the ‘Cold Dragon of the North Winds.’ The voracious and invasive Lionfish is taking over the Atlantic Ocean, eating through coral reef after coral reef. The monstrous Tibetan Mastiff dogs were bred with Mountain Wolves to be able to survive at super-high altitudes. The Atlantic great white shark has made a comeback since 1997,, when they went under Federal protection, and sharks are being spotted near beaches in the North Atlantic Ocean, just feet from the shoreline. Scientists are now uncovering secrets of an ancient mystery civilization in Saudi Arabia. Experts are skeptical of the claims that a Royal Tortoise lived to the age of 344-years-old.

Entertainment News:

Since we last spoke, we have lost more celebrities. Celebrity chef Carl Ruiz died at age 44. Legendary TV new pioneer, Cokie Roberts, left us at age 76. The frontman and principal singer of the Cars, Ric Ocasek, stopped singing at age 75. Another famous singer, Eddie Money, was laid to rest at age 70. Legendary oil tycoon T. Boone Pickets passed away at age 91. Movie actress Carol Lynley, died at age 77. Songwriter for Destiny’s Child, Tamar Braxton, Brandy, Monica and others, LaShawn Danield, stopped penning hits at age 42. Today (Friday), Diahann Carroll died at age 84.

Justin Bieber has slammed PETA for criticizing his $35,000 exotic cats. Meanwhile, the Biebs did his first country song with Dan + Shay, “10,000 Hours.” Nicky Hilton says Paris Hilton is a “Great Aunt” to her two kids. There is buzz and praise for Joaquin Phoenix’s approach to JOKER, which diverges from the late Heath Ledger’s portrayal and the portrayal by Jack Nicholson. Country music’s new super group is The Highwomen. 56-year-old Phoebe Cates and husband, Kevin Kline, are still going strong. Grey Anatomy’s breakup is turning bitter. Rachel Lindsay vows to never be a friends with Raven Gates again. Miley Cyrus was spotted kissing Cody Simpson, just two weeks after Kaitlynn Carter split. Queer Eye stars are mourning the sudden death of their beloved French bulldog mascot. Demi Lovato is apologizing after backlash over her trip to Israel. Travis Scott’s rumored mistress is denying involvement in his split with Kylie Jenner. Meanwhile, Khloe Kardashian has “no interest” in reconciling with Tristan Thompson. Actor James Franco has been accused of sexually exploiting female students at his acting school. Prince Harry just publicly reprimanded a British reporter amid ongoing tensions. Joe Giudice has been granted an Italy travel request amid deportation appeal. Josh Duhamel and Miss World America Audra Mari confirm their romance with a steamy public kiss. Fixer Upper fans (and I am one) will rejoice to hear that Chip and Joanna Gaines are opening a hotel. Gwen Stefani, Jennifer Lopez, and Jennifer Aniston have made 50 the new 30. Actor Robert De Niro has been hit with a $12 million sex discrimination and harassment lawsuit from former assistant. Cynthia Erivo plays Aretha Franklin in National Geographic Channel’s Genius series. Below Deck Mediterranean had its finale, which was good for Joao, promoted to Captain by Captain Sandy, but not good for Hannah, as the First Steward was told she doesn’t have a passion for yachting. It was a good season. Now, Below Deck Caribbean begins with Captain Lee, but in Thailand. My Chicago series have all begun bloodily: Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and Chicago PD. Model Gigi Hadid and Tyler Cameron officially split after whirlwind 2 months. Jeff Probst is calling out CBS for spoiling Survivor. They must be in their 25th season by now.

AVENGERS: ENDGAME has started its Oscar campaign for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay, but nothing for Acting. The box-office was weak this past weekend. Debuting at No.1 was ABOMINABLE, with $20.6 million. No.2 was DOWNTON ABBE, the screen adaptation of the wildly popular TV series, which made another $14.3 million in its second week. HUSTLERS continued to make money, raking in another $11.3 million for No.3, in its 3rd week (total of $80.5 million for a $20 million film). No.4 went to IT: CHAPTER TWO, with $10.2 million in its 4th week. Rounding out the top 5 was AD ASTRA, with $10 million in its second week. Another notable debut in limited theaters was JUDY, about Judy Garland, which was only in 461 theaters but made $2.9 million.

This weekend sees the debut of the latest DC Comics adaptation of JOKER, which has generated a lot of attention and is expected to take a shot at the October opening record. That record is held by last year’s VENOM, which made $80.25 million in its debut. Universal’s ABOMINABLE is expected to take No.2, and Universal’s DOWNTON ABBEY in No.3. Other movies opening this week in theaters: WAR, THE CLIMBERS, ASURAN, MY PEOPLE/MY COUNTRY, EL COYOTE, LUCY IN THE SKY, DOLEMITE IS MY NAME, CHANAKYA, OPEN, ROGER WATERS US + THEM, PAIN AND GLORY, SEMPER FI, MEMORY:THE ORIGINS OF ALIEN, 100% KAADHAL, THE PARTS YOU LOSE, CUCK, LOW TIDE, ROGUE WARFARE, WRINKLES THE CLOWN, BATTLE OF JANGSARI, A UNICORN ADVENTURE, WALLFLOWER, and AMERICAN GHANDI.

Martin Scorcese said that the DC and Marvel comic books films are “not cinema”.

Technology & Space News:

Are they going to come up with a 12-step program for this Amazon Prime? It’s seriously like (for all you youngsters) the old Home Shopping Network or QVC on steroids! You search for something on the Internet, find the best price, and click Buy Now, and it arrives the next day! It’s like Ebay without the auction and wait, no offense to those other companies. I can see how this could be very addictive to other people. HP Inc.’s new CEO has unveiled plans to streamline the computer/printer company, including cutting its workforce by as much as 16% over the next 3 years (about 7,000-9,000 people). In Forbes 400, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos tops the list of richest people in the US. Microsoft is showcasing an Android Surface phone. Bed Bath & Beyond is escalating store closings, as it ramps up its online store. GM has debuted its 2020 Corvette Stingray convertible. Ford has debuted its new throwback 2020 Mustang. The US government wants private Whatsapp texts from Facebook. Sony’s cloud video game service has gotten a price cut. The small city of Catalina Island does not sell Windows or Macintosh or smartphones, and the connectivity can be really spotty for the 4,400 inhabitants. But, Catalina Island is featured for the next year as the new Apple computer operating system update, called macOS Catalina, which will feature wallpaper with a beautiful photo of the island, much to the delight of its inhabitants. Apple historically updates its software each year with the name of a different California landmark. Apple had its big annual event right after I wrote the last Repo Commentary. So, if you missed it, Apple Arcade came out to help you enjoy games, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone 11 and Apple Watch Series 5 arrived in stores in 3rd week of September. The new version (Gen 7) of the most popular iPad, featuring a 10.2-inch Retina Display, Smart Keyboard, and Apple Pencil Support hit stores about a week later. iPadOS also became available as free software update for iPad Air 2 and later, all iPad Pro models, iPad 5th Gen and later, And iPad mini 4 and later. Apple Antara opened its doors to Mexico City on 9/27. Apple-launched China Clean Energy Fund invested in 3 wind farms on 9/24. Apple’s new Mac Pro will be made in Texas. Apple’s Fifth Avenue store has its cube back. An unidentified ring-shaped object just floated by the International Space Station.

US News:

An impeachment inquiry has been launched into President Trump. The case of the ex-cop in Dallas who entered the wrong apartment and found a man there who she thought was and intruder, drew on him, and killed him, went to the jury today for sentencing. No doubt, the in-court apology by her to the victim’s brother, who forgave her and then came across the courtroom to give her a long hug, weighed heavily on the jury. 60 Minutes will tell the story this Sunday of the Texas Ranger who convinced serial killer, Samuel Little, to confess to murdering 93 women. Cops are hunting for a Speedo-clad man haunting Kent State sorority. Presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, is still in the hospital after collapsing at a function and having emergency heart surgery. It was bound to happen sooner or later, an Oregon burglar was arrested by police, confessing to using a drone for aerial recon (case) potential burglary targets. Strange lights off the Outer Banks have sparked a debate about aliens or military operations. NYPD has stepped up video surveillance in subways. The Supreme Court has taken up a major Louisiana abortion case. Homeland Security is moving all biometric data to Amazon Cloud. 19 members of US Army 82nd Airborne were injured in a parachuting helicopter crash in Mississippi during training.

International News:

Terror inquiry has been launched into the killing of 4 police employees by a colleague in Paris on Thursday. Thousands of theater goers are protesting Hong Kong’s new emergency measure of banning face masks in public, particularly during more violent protests and in theaters and public places, amid reports of a teenager being shot with a live round. Ukraine’s President Zelensky, looking at a phased peace deal with Russian-backed rebels in the east, is planning a frontline troop withdrawal. The Iraq PM says there is “no magic solution” to unrest in the country, after days of violent protests. An Antonov-12 transport plane crash-landed near Lviv airport in western Ukraine, killing at least 5 people.

Florida:

Right across the street from me, at the Palm Beach Outlet Mall, a worker at Bird in the Hand, and in-store restaurant at Whole Foods, owned by the man who owns the food delivery service Go Cravy, was arrested for stealing a company check and attempting to deposit at a nearby TD Bank for $100,000.

I am usually singing a National Anthem, singing in my 6-part harmony group Generation Gap, and/or doing an Elvis Presley gig, each week here in Palm Beach County, FL. I think I have 3 gigs in the month of October and I did finally break down and buy a performance wig, because of the receding grey hair. However, if you were inclined to see much more famous bands or solos in concert than my Generation Gap or Elvis Presley performances, there were many acts which came to Florida this year, perhaps when you were visiting (I should be getting updated schedules for each venue soon for Q4 and 2020):

The Temptations-Fort Lauderdale, January 31
Don McLean-Immokalee, January 31
Michael Bolton-Fort Lauderdale, February 2
The Four Tops and the Temptations-West Palm Beach, February 2
Melissa Manchester-Aventura, February 8
Michael Bolton-West Palm Beach, February 8
The Commodores-Miami, February 9
Patti LaBelle-Fort Myers, February 11
Duran Duran-Miami Beach, February 12
Franki Valli & the Four Seasons, Hollywood, February 14
Andrea Bocelli-Miami, February 14
Dave Mason-Fort Lauderdale, February 15
Little River Band-Fort Myers, February 15
Michael Buble-Sunrise, February 16 (I would like to go)
Alan Parsons Project-Fort Lauderdale, February 18
Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes-Bonita Springs, February 20
Art Garfunkel-Fort Lauderdale, February 20
Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20
Sarah Brightman-Hollywood, February 20
PGA Honda Classic-PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, February 28-March 2
Pink-Sunrise-March 1 (it was fantastic!)
Sara Mclachlan-March 1, West Palm Beach
Paul Anka-Fort Lauderdale-March 4
Elton John-Sunrise, March 16
Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band-Sunrise, March 17
Steve Miller Band-Hollywood, March 17
Tony Bennett-Miami, March 21
Palm Beach International Boat Show-West Palm Beach, March 28-March 31
Jackson Browne-West Palm Beach, April 3
Abba The Concert-Miami Beach, April 4
The Rolling Stones-Miami, April 20
Whitesnake-Fort Lauderdale, April 25
Slayer-West Palm Beach, May 11
Rascal Flatts-West Palm Beach, May 23
Ariana Grande-Orlando, May 29
Ozzie Osbourne & Megadeth-Sunrise, May 31
Hootie & the Blowfish-West Palm Beach, June 8
Florence and The Machine-Miami, June 9
Train & Goo Goo Dolls-West Palm Beach, July 6
Hugh Jackman-Sunrise, July 6
Jeff Lynnes’ Electric Light Orchestra-Sunrise, July 9
New Kids on the Block, Salt N Pepa, Naughty by Nature-Sunrise, July 14
Iron Maiden-Sunrise, July 18
Dave Matthews Band-West Palm Beach, July 26
Jennifer Lopez-Miami, July 26
Korn & Alice in Chains-West Palm Beach, July 28
Shawn Mendes-Miami, July 28
Queen & Adam Lambert-Sunrise, August 17
Florida Georgia Line-West Palm Beach, August 29
Peter Frampton-West Palm Beach, September 6
Dane Cook-Fort Lauderdale, September 28
jkidwell561 Uncategorized Leave a comment October 4, 2019 52 MinutesEdit “Repo Commentary-10/4/19”

Repo Commentary-10/4/19

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No, I am NOT retired. I will be seeing many of you here in Boca Raton, FL at the RMA Conference in October. It is currently in the upper 80s, very windy, and quite humid, but sunny. My name may pop a few times in the news, prior to the conference. They couldn’t find any Repo expert old enough to know how the Repo market was ‘back in the days’ and who could explain why there has been so much volatility in (something that happens about every decade, according to my good friend and colleague/partner from MS).

Meanwhile, did Summer really go by that fast? I remember speaking to a really smart quant one time in, I don’t know, maybe Newport Beach, CA, and he said that “the velocity of time increases with age.” I don’t know if he was just right or he somehow cursed me, but every season is faster than the last year and every year is faster than the prior ten years! Or, so it seems. I know y’all (I am now a Floridian) in places like Maine or the UP have a brief week or two between Winter and, well Winter.

My Repo Commentary is posted free (it’s actually always been free) on my website: http://www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn, the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website, and on CentralBanks.com as an op-ed. I’m trying to make it more frequent, but I’ve been swamped.

If you need to reach me, my mobile is still 646-753-1300, my email for work is jeffkidwell82@gmail.com, and you can also hit me up on LinkedIn.

Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my former firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information. I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures! I’ll let you in on a secret that I got some of my Redneck Friday photos from a few State Treasurers’ offices. Also, please send me feedback, as I want to make it better all the time. As many of you know, it used to be a daily Repo Commentary back in the 80s and for a long time. But, then again, I used to be younger. I don’t know how I typed this by hand (still do) every single day (and didn’t get fired) and even re-wrote some 200 song lyrics to current market activity.

Holidays or Events (10/3):

¥ Bring Your Bible to School Day
¥ Look at the Leaves Day
¥ National Butterfly and Hummingbird Day
¥ National Boyfriend Day
¥ National Caramel Custard Day
¥ Mean Girls Appreciation Day (a weird social media celebration of the film)
¥ National Poetry Day
¥ National Techies Day
¥ National Virus Appreciation Day
¥ German Unity Day (in Germany)
¥ Morazan Day in Honduras
¥ National Day (independence of Iraq from the UK)
¥ National Foundation Day (South Korea)

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Monday (9/29-10/1) was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year (Head of the Year). Next week (10/8-10/9) is Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.

Some Famous People Born on 10/3 in History:

¥ 85 BC- Gaius Cassius Longinus- Roman politician (died at age 43
¥ 1900-Thomas Wolfe-American novelist
¥ 1925-Gore Vidal-American novelist
¥ 1925-George Wein-American pianist/producer, co-founded Newport Folk Festival
¥ 1938-Eddie Cochran-American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor
¥ 1940-Jean Ratelle-Canadian hockey player and coach
¥ 1941-Chubby Checker-American singer-songwriter
¥ 1946-P.P. Arnold-American soul singer
¥ 1947-Ben Cauley-American trumpet player and songwriter
¥ 1947-Fred DeLuca-American businessman, co-founded Subway
¥ 1949-Lindsey Buckingham-American singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer
¥ 1951-Keb’ Mo-American blues musician and songwriter
¥ 1951-Kathryn D. Sullivan-American geologist and astronaut
¥ 1951-Dave Winfield-MLB player and sportscaster
¥ 1954-Dennis Eckersley-MLB player and sportscaster
¥ 1954-Al Sharpton-American minister, talks show host, political activist
¥ 1954-Stevie Ray Vaughan-American singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer
¥ 1959-Fred Couples-American golfer
¥ 1959-Jack Wagner-American actor and singer
¥ 1962-Tommy Lee-Greek-American singer-songwriter, drummer, and producer
¥ 1964-Clive Owen-English actor
¥ 1969-Gwen Stefani-American singer-songwriter, actress, fashion designer
¥ 1969-Tetsuya-Japanese singer-songwriter, bass player, and producer
¥ 1970-Jimmy Ray-English singer-songwriter and guitarist
¥ 1971-Wil Cordero-Puerto Rican-American MLB player and coach
¥ 1971-Kevin Richardson-American singer-songwriter and actor
¥ 1973-Neve Campbell-Canadian actress and producer
¥ 1973-Lena Headey-British actress
¥ 1984-Ashlee Simpson-American singer-songwriter and actress

This Day in History (10/3):

¥ 2457 BC- Gaecheonjeol, Hwanung purportedly descended from Heaven, celebrated as South Korea’s National Foundation Day.
• 52 BC-Vercingetorix, leader of the Gauls, surrenders to the Romans under Julius Caesar, ending the siege and battle of Alesia.
¥ 42 BC-Triumvirs Mark Antony and Octavian fight a decisive battle with Caesar’s assassins Brutus and Cassius.
¥ 382-Roman Emperor Theodosius I concludes a peace treaty with the Goths and settles them in the Balkans.
¥ 1283-Dafydd ap Gruffydd, prince of Gwynedd in Wales, is the first nobleman to be executed by hanging, drawing and quartering.
¥ 1683-Qing dynasty naval commander Shi Lang receives the surrender of the Tungning kingdom on Taiwan after the Battle of Penghu.
¥ 1712-the Treaty of Nis is signed by the Ottoman Empire and Russia at the end of the Russian-Turkish War.
¥ 1789-George Washington declares a Thanksgiving Day for that year.
¥ 1795-Slave rebel leader Tula is executed in Curacao.
¥ 1863-the last Thursday in November is declared as the national holiday of Thanksgiving Day by US President Abraham Lincoln.
¥ 1873-Chief Kintpuash and companions are hanged for their part in the Modoc War of northern California.
¥ 1912-US forces defeat Nicaraguan rebels at the Battle of Coyotepe Hill.
¥ 1918-King Boris III of Bulgaria accedes to the throne.
¥ 1919-Cincinnati Reds pitcher Adolfo Luque becomes the first Latin player to appear in the World Series.
¥ 1929-the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes is renamed as Yugoslavia.
¥ 1932-Iraq gains independence from the United Kingdom.
¥ 1935-Second Italo-Abyssinian War: Italy invades Ethiopia.
¥ 1943-World War II: German forces murder 92 civilians in Lyngiades, Greece.
¥ 1949-WERD, the first black-owned radio station in the US, opens in Atlanta.
¥ 1951-Korean War: the First Battle of Maryang San pits Commonwealth troops against communist Chinese troops.
¥ 1952-the UK successfully tests a nuclear weapon to become the world’s third nuclear power.
¥ 1963-a violent coup in Honduras begins two decades of military rule.
¥ 1978-a Finnish Air Force DC-3 crashes, killing all aboard (12 VIP passengers and 3 crew).
¥ 1981-the hunger strike at the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland ends after 7 months and 10 deaths.
¥ 1985-the Space Shuttle Atlantis makes its maiden flight.
¥ 1990-the German Democratic Republic is abolished and becomes part of the Federal Republic of Germany.
¥ 1993-an American attack against a warlord in Mogadishu fails. 18 attackers and over 350 Somalis die.
¥ 2008-the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 for the US financial system is signed by President George W. Bush.
¥ 2009-Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgzstan, and Turkey join together in the Turkic Council.
¥ 2013-at least 134 migrants are killed when their boat sinks near the Italian island of Lampedusa.
¥ 2015-42 people are killed and 33 go missing in the Kunduz hospital strike.

Daily Weird Facts:

Actor Frankie Muniz suffers from long term memory loss and doesn’t remember being on Malcolm in the Middle.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to have changed often.”—Winston Churchill

Currency and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices closed at:

$74.34/barrel on 10/5
$47.66/barrel on 12/23
$48.63 on 01/07
$52.31/barrel on 01/16
$55.26/barrel on 2/3
$55.41/barrel on 2/26
$73.77/barrel on 4/29
$63.28/barrel on 5/17
$54.07/barrel on 6/18
$55.96/barrel on 7/24
$58.31/barrel on 9/10
$53.50/barrel on 10/2

The price of gasoline at my new West Palm Beach station has slowly climbed since Hurricane Dorian to $2.39/gallon, despite the drop in oil prices during the same period. Most of the other stations in the area are 40-70 cents more per gallon.

One USD versus the Yen was trading at (these are all Repo Commentary dates):

112.20 on 12/24
108.60 on 01/07
109.07 on 01/16
103.18 on 02/03
104.86 on 2/25
103.86 on 5/17
102.59 on 6/18
102.43 on 7/24
101.72 on 9/10
102.16 on 10/02

One Euro was trading on:

12/24 at $1.1426
01/07 at $1.1478
01/16 at $1.1396
02/03 at $1.2047
02/25 at $1.1955
05/17 at $1.1761
06/18 at $1.1825
07/24 at $1.1740
09/10 at $1.1623
10/02 at $1.1504

One British Pound was trading on:

12/24 at $1.2655
01/07 at $1.2770
01/16 at $1.2880
02/03 at $1.3758
02/25 at $1.3728
05/17 at $1.3427
06/18 at $1.3157
07/24 at $1.3070
09/10 at $1.2959
10/02 at $1.2882

One USD versus the CAD at:

1.3442 on 12/24
1.3297 on 01/07
1.3255 on 01/16
1.2492 on 2/03
1.2492 on 2/25
1.2800 on 5/17
1.2740 on 6/18
1.2480 on 7/24
1.2520 on 9/10
1.2560 on 10/02

Gold closed on 9/09 at $1504.90/ounce. On 10/02, it closed at $1498.70/ounce.

Bitcoin was trading at (Repo Commentary Dates):

$8,185.21 on 7/25
$6,350 on 10/5
$3,774.97 on 12/24/18
$3,7774.97 on 01/07
$3,598.90 on 01/16
$3,421.10 on 02/06
$3,826.44 on 02/26
$8,100.00 on 05/16
$7,215.79 on 05/17
$9,088.59 on 06/18
$11,919.30 on 06/25
$9,790.37 on 07/24
$10,183.90 on 09/10
$8,235.46 on 10/02

After rebounding dramatically since the beginning of the year, although certainly not to its $19,000 highs, Bitcoin hit a wall at the beginning of the Summer, rallied during the Summer, and recently has tumbled again in the past month.

Global Financial News:

The recent deal with the Trump Administration puts Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on course to break free of government conservatorship and allows them to retain earnings. The US unemployment rate just fell to a 50-year low today. The figures run counter to recent economic data that was pointing to the US heading for a recession. The EU is readying its response to tariffs imposed by the US, after the WTO ruled that the US could retaliate against the EU subsidies to aircraft manufacturer Airbus. Advisory firms are being urged to act a “digital safeguards” and train employees and clients on cybersecurity and reviewing software vendors’ security. In an ironic twist, the FSB, who originally pushed for tough industry regulations, is now saying that cutting back banks’ loss reserves/equity/capital that they have to hold, to reduce the likelihood of a government bailout during systemic crisis, would help make the global economy more stable. That comes from Randal Quarles, chairman of the FSB and vice chairman of supervision at the Federal Reserve, saying “We have set our [loss-absorbing capacity] too high.” Fed’s Clarida said monetary policy is “not on a preset course.” Trade groups and financial institutions are calling for action to deal with unnecessary fragmentation that regulations have created, in some cased unintended consequences. The Federal Reserve will discuss changes to bank supervision, including ones that will ease regulations for mid-size and regional banks. Living Will requirements are also expected to change and become based on bank size. EU and Ireland say that the UK must make more concessions to get a Brexit deal, making it appear that British PM Boris Johnson’s proposal is not likely to lead to a deal. CFPB has added members to its advisory boards, reversing former acting Director Mulvaney’s efforts to dismantle some of the boards of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In Pensions & Investments, a new survey from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies shows that only 17% of employers are “very” confident about their employees’ retirement security. 23% of employers said they were “not too” confident, and 6% were “not at all” confident. Philadelphia Fed president Patrick Harker said that the use of digital currencies by central banks is “inevitable.” Falling yields on US Treasuries and German Bunds, fueled by strong appetite for ‘save haven’ securities and Easing by the Federal Reserve, suggest the global economy is in trouble and inflation is set to remain low. The pace of the expansion of the US services sector has slowed to a 3-year low in September, according to the Institute for Supply Management. The first 4 IPOs since WeWork’s planned offering collapsed and Peloton shares dropped post-IPO, demonstrate that investors appear to be losing interest in startups going public, per Bloomberg News. Slowing in US manufacturing activity and private-sector hiring, along with a weakening economy and growing trade strife, are making analysts bearish on industrial stocks.

US Market News:

The Dow Jones (global stocks as well), along with other stock indices, were enjoying record or near-record highs in late July 2019 (feeding off of earnings reports, US budget progress, and the Fed switching to easing monetary policy) but then corrected some 10% in August 2019, due to global political unrest and tariff/trade wars. Since August, it has been turbulent, but given the turmoil in the Repo Market, Fed easing, and lower yields/higher issuance in the US Treasury market, one would have expected some reallocation to stocks.

The Dow Jones closed at (Repo Commentary Dates):

26,656.77 on 9/20/18
26,447.05 on 10/5/18
21,792.20 on 12/23/18
21,712.53 on 12/26/18
24,207.16 on 01/16/19
25,063.89 on 2/06/19
26,106.47 on 2/25/19
25,862.68 on 5/16/19
26,465.54 on 6/18/19
27,269.97 on 7/24/19
26,793.09 on 9/10/19
26,229.31 on 10/02/19 down 343.73 points as I write this

S&P 500 also gave up its all-time high on 9/20/18 of 2,930.66, then marched back up to a new high on 7/24/19, only to correct to nearly 2,800 three times in August, before rising again to near the highs, closing on:

10/5/18 at 2,885.58
12/26/18 at 2,467.70
01/07/19 at 2,549.69
01/16/19 at 2,616.10
02/06/19 at 2,706.53
02/25/19 at 2,799.34
05/16/19 at 2,876.32
06/18/19 at 2,917.75
07/24/19 at 3,019.56 new all-time high
09/10/19 at 2,969.04
10/02/19 at 2,906.94 down 33.31 as I write this

Nasdaq too gave up its 8/28/18 high of 8,030.04, closing on:

10/5/18 at 7,788.45
12/26/18 at 6,554.36
01/07/19 at 6,823.47
01/16/19 at 7,034.70
02/06/19 at 7,263.87
02/25/19 at 7,561.87
05/16/19 at 7,898.05
06/18/19 at 7,953.68
07/24/19 at 8,321.50 new all-time high
09/10/19 at 8,043.58
10/02/19 at 7,809.22 down 99.46 as I write this

US Treasury yields have been in free-fall since hitting highs in October 2018.

2 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 2.88%
12/18/18 at 2.65%
01/07/19 at 2.53%
01/16/19 at 2.55%
02/06/19 at 2.52%
02/22/19 at 2.48%
05/16/19 at 2.20%
06/18/19 at 1.86%
07/24/19 at 1.83%
09/09/19 at 1.58%
10/01/19 at 1.56%

3 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 2.99%
12/18/18 at 2.64%
01/07/19 at 2.47% (inverted to 2years)
01/16/19 at 2.53%
02/06/19 at 2.50%
02/22/19 at 2.46%
05/16/19 at 2.15%
06/18/19 at 1.80%
07/24/19 at 1.79%
09/09/19 at 1.52%
10/01/19 at 1.51%

5 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.07%
12/18/18 at 2.65%
01/07/19 at 2.49%
01/16/19 at 2.54%
02/06/19 at 2.51%
02/22/19 at 2.47%
05/16/19 at 2.18%
06/18/19 at 1.83%
07/24/19 at 1.82%
09/09/19 at 1.49%
10/01/19 at 1.51%

7 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.18%
12/18/18 at 2.74%
01/07/19 at 2.60%
01/16/19 at 2.62%
02/06/19 at 2.59%
02/22/19 at 2.55%
05/16/19 at 2.28%
06/18/19 at 1.93%
07/24/19 at 1.93%
09/09/19 at 1.57%
10/01/19 at 1.59%

10 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.23%
12/18/18 at 2.82%
01/07/19 at 2.70%
01/16/19 at 2.73%
02/06/19 at 2.70%
02/22/19 at 2.65%
05/16/19 at 2.40%
06/18/19 at 2.06%
07/24/19 at 2.05%
09/09/19 at 1.83%
10/01/19 at 1.65% dramatic drop in one month!

30 YEAR BONDS closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.40%
12/18/18 at 3.07%
01/07/19 at 2.99%
01/16/19 at 3.07%
02/06/19 at 3.03%
02/22/19 at 3.02%
05/16/19 at 2.84%
06/18/19 at 2.55%
07/24/19 at 2.58%
09/10/19 at 2.11%
10/01/19 at 2.11%

US Treasury yields have virtually disappeared in the last 2 months and market participants got another 25bp rate cut at the 9/18 FOMC meeting, and are expecting yet another cut before year-end. Timing is perfect for record issuance by the US Treasury, so it will pay less interest on its debt, and as it’s mulling over issuing much longer maturities at these cycle low interest rates. But, there is a ‘Catch-22’: the rates are low, so, great for issuance and great for Treasury; but who will buy the securities if they have too low a yield versus other investments?

Housing News:

The NY Times officially declared the Manhattan real estate a “buyers’ market”. Hmmm, the brokers on Million Dollar Listing-NYC had declared that a season ago. Anyway, the volume of sales and the prices of condos and co-ops (I had a cond-op, ugh) fell sharply in Q3, in almost every real estate category in Manhattan. As the NYT points out, some of this was due to the transfer-tax rates for luxury apartments that went into effect in July. Volume of Sales in Q3 was down 14.2% year/year and median sales prices fell 8.2% to $1,025,000. Compass pointed out that in Q3, properties stayed an average of 152 days on the market, the longest since 2012. Back to that transfer-tax rate (also referred to as the ‘mansion tax’), it is a tax on sales above $1 million with staggered percentage tax from 1-3.9%, depending on the sales price of the property. A Michigan real estate agent’s “Scream” themed listing photos have gone viral. REALTOR Magazine reports that single-story ranch homes are becoming more desirable that they once were. Analysts expect lower mortgage rates to buoy buyer demand in the Fall months, as the bright spot in a worrisome economy. A new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that some buyers may be better off using a digital mortgage, which reduces discrimination. A new study says that 17% of young homebuyers regret their purchases.

Repo News:

I am guessing that this is the first time for many to actually scroll down to the Repo Market section of the Repo Commentary first, rather than Entertainment or Sports. Well, I guess that’s understandable. We have been experiencing those once-in-a-decade volatile periods in the Securities Finance Market that suddenly put the word “Repo” on the front pages of Bloomberg, WSJ, and NY Times, baffling hundreds of millions of people around the world. I intended to write this Repo Commentary a week ago, but got a deluge of calls from clients, colleagues, and media about the current state of affairs. It’s nice to be needed and the first call when there is trouble in our Securities Financing industry, to an extent.

I had to laugh when Invesco’s Vice Chairman of Investments, Krishna Memani, wrote on LinkedIn, “get a repo trader going and he will regale—and bore—you to death-with stories about the inner workings of the money market. And within 10 minutes, you will be talking about the repo market during the financial crisis as if it happened yesterday.” I think he was specifically directing that at me! Well, “repo” is the lubricant of the money market system, particularly the issuance of US Treasuries and other bonds, and it only comes up in conversation among non-participants when the gears start squeaking or fail to function, like yelling for WD 40. And, the last time the general public heard about “repo” it was during the Financial Crisis. Okay, there, I said it, I proved Mr. Memani right.

I know you’ve seen many articles on the subject of current repo market illiquidity and volatility, I’ve read them too. I think I can summarize them all and add my almost 37 years of experience in the Securities Finance market to lay out the causes and possible solutions.

To look at the WHY, one need look at what has happened since the Financial Crisis.

¥ The regulators, particularly the Federal Reserve, instituted emergency liquidity programs for different sectors of the money market (CP, Corporate Bonds, Broker/Dealers, GSEs, etc.). They eventually unwound those many programs.
¥ They opened up for a brief time the Discount Window to more participants and without the previous stigma attached, for collateral providers to access cash.
¥ They put FNMA and FHLMC into conservatorship.
¥ They began easing Monetary Policy massively for years.
¥ They began Quantitative Easing and built up the Fed’s balance sheet to $4.5 trillion. They added to it by buying more securities every month from the paydowns on their MBS portfolio.
¥ They propped up some broker/dealers, allowed some to fail, and helped others to consolidate/merge.
¥ The Repo Market shrunk in the US from about $7 trillion to $3 trillion, before recent increase to about $3.6 trillion.
¥ Regulators instituted mountains of new reforms, especially the 310 new rules of Dodd-Frank, globally to decrease the likelihood of systemic risk in the financial system and to force, particularly the broker/dealers and GSIB banks to hold more capital/reserves for liquidity.
¥ The market began looking for alternatives to financing through broker/dealers via CCPs, peer-to-peer financing, Sponsored Repo, and electronic trading platforms.
¥ The Fed began its much hailed RRP program, which added over 300 cash providers from the Repo market to finance the Fed’s balance sheet and provide ‘liquidity’ for those cash providers.
¥ The Fed stopped QE and began reducing their balance sheet down to $2.5 trillion.
¥ The US Treasury began ramping up issuance to the tune of about $1 trillion more, which is funneled through the 24 primary broker/dealers and the central banks.
¥ The Fed began tightening monetary policy and tinkering with new measures of repo rates and LIBOR replacement. They also began tinkering with the Interest on Excess Reserves (IOER) from banks and credit unions, to try to create higher reserves.
¥ The Fed did an about face and began easing monetary policy. They also lowered IOER.
That’s not everything that happened, but that gives you the broad strokes. And just in those bullet points, I see many of the contributing factors of the recent dislocation of the repo market. And, by the way, that actually refutes Mr. Memani’s later comment that “Nothing much has happened in the money markets since financial crisis. A lot more happened in those 11 years than happened in the 26 years that I was in the money markets.

I believe the reasons we had dislocations over the last week or so in repo rates, up as high as 10% the first day and 6% the second day, despite the Fed easing the target to 1.75%-2.00% the third day, and coming in with Overnight Open Market Operations (which they used to do daily—Customer RPs, System RPs, Match Sales—which was how we used to determined what they were doing with Monetary Policy, based on whether they were adding reserves or removing reserves and to what extent, but I won’t “bore” you), come down to a major imbalance of bank reserves, behavior not consistent with expectation, illiquidity in the repo market (rather than the highly touted increase in liquidity), concentration risk, a corporate tax date that removed cash from the repo market, humongous new supply of US treasuries being issued, many Repo market participants out of the Federal Reserve direct loop, and a mountain of hundreds of new regulations that broker/dealers (and others) are trying to still absorb and position reserves/capital, personnel, and trading strategies for. As you can see, there are a lot of balls in the air!

I’m not sure why participants and regulators didn’t foresee an imbalance (lack of) bank reserves. The piles of new regulations that regulators gave to the money markets fundamentally required banks to hold more reserves versus balance sheets (which repo is the major contributor to), the low yields may have encouraged banks to use reserves elsewhere in more profitable areas than repo (they are profit-motivated, as they should be), and the Fed lowered the IOER which may have disincented banks from depositing reserves at the Fed. The decrease in the Fed’s balance sheet came at the cost of the market absorbing those securities. The US Treasury issuing phenomenal amounts of securities that have to be taken by the 24 primary dealers (already full up on balance sheets they are trying to reduce) and the central banks/swfs (who already have $14 trillion of US Treasuries, should have been know as a potential clog in the system. Plus, with the Fed lowering rates, the returns on those US Treasuries would be lower for those new owners. And the central banks ownership of US Treasuries is another complicated story, one of ripple effects. They can’t really sell US Treasuries into this market, without having some issue with the US Government, whichever branch. But, yet, many of them need to support their currency, particularly against the US Dollar. So, some of them enter the Repo market to repo the US Treasuries to receive US Dollars to then buy their own currencies with, propping up their currency by kicking the can somewhat down the road, until their GDP rises or oil prices rise (raising their specific GDP). Layer over that macroeconomic soup a topping of trade wars and tariffs, it becomes rather complex to predict. And, that brings me to my last observation, that unintended consequences arose from the hundreds of regulations foisted on the money market, mainly because market behavior is not that predictive. Regulators thought that if they made the system safer, more investors would come in, but yet the repo market didn’t grow that much, but yet supply from the Fed and from the US Treasury increased dramatically. Regulators thought that if the banks had more reserves and capital, they would pass that on to the buyside, but that didn’t take into account their profit motivations and individual bank idiosyncricies. Lastly, the regulators didn’t expect the perfect storm of added supply, taxes withdrawn, cash out of the system, reserves lower, and tools that would work directly only on the 24 primary dealers and the 300 cash providers in RRP. I’ve been remarking for years, since the RRP, that there was not a comparable program for collateral providers/leveraged players in the Repo market. Steve Malekian went further to say, a year ago, that the newly touted liquidity of the Repo market was “only for Platinum accounts.” It was only for select buyside clients.

So, the Fed needs to do something. And, I don’t mean just the Overnight operations with the 24 primary dealers. I can’t even predict what those dealers’ positions are or how the added liquidity would flow to the buyside clients. The extra cash could be used to fund their Swaps desk, the Repo Desk, other outright traders, Platinum accounts, or speculatively with leveraged accounts (as a few savvy broker/dealers have seen that opportunity and gone short to reverse in at higher rates from leveraged accounts and supply balance sheet). The point is that the mound of regulations and the open market operations and the tinkering with the IOER are supposed to impact banks and broker/dealers in such a way to induce certain behavior, but behavior is unique. So, the Fed needs to go back to its ample toolkit (and get people who have been there at least 10 years) to:
¥ Implement more term RPs, to give the market some faith and reduce Fed reputational risk
¥ Purchase securities, either US Treasuries or Agency MBS, increasing the Fed balance sheet (although this may be difficult because there were probably several good reasons why they decreased it.)
¥ Open the Discount Window to more participants, with NO stigma attached (it used to be how one in the market knew who was having a liquidity crisis), and other sectors represented.
¥ Create a collateral provider facility, similar to RRP, or help reduce the hurdles, like CCLF for CCPs and Sponsored Repo type ventures to increase liquidity.
¥ Tinker the IOER rate UP, rather than down, to increase the Reserves at the Fed.
¥ Support/encourage Repo done outside of the 24 primary dealers, helping collateral providers find cash providers, when certain broker/dealers are balance sheet full and capital restrained from the very regulations that the Fed was involved in. I hope that didn’t come out too angry. I think systemic risk reduction is a huge priority and I am worried about firesale risk (although I don’t think moving the sale down the road to 7 days or 30 days changes firesale risk, it just changes the date of the firesale).
Okay, you made it through my diatribe. Sorry for the verbosity or if I ‘bored’ you. The bottom line is that the money markets, particularly the securities finance market (Repo & Securities Lending) is still trying to find its footing, particularly as the Repo market has shrunk, while Treasury supply has increased.

I still see the Repo and Securities Lending market as having changed in many permanent ways. We traditionally had a credit intermediator, the broker/dealers (originally just the primary broker/dealers) and later prime brokers, who were the pipeline through their respective repo matched books for ALL collateral providers to trade with cash providers, without the two sides ever knowing about each other or facing each other. That lack of knowledge of the other side of the dealers’ repo matched book came at a couple of costs, first, the bid/offer spread that went to the dealers, which has been volatile but certainly widened since the Financial Crisis, and second, the defaults of the Financial Crisis, which not only subjected clients to dealer defaults and wider spreads, but in many cases directly impacted clients by making them suddenly the outright traders of repo collateral. Some of that collateral, on top of it, was very illiquid. Not knowing who the other clients were on the other side of the dealers’ repo matched book, and who could potentially bring down those intermediary dealers was costly for many clients. Clearly, with that pipeline of is intermediation becoming severely crimped by post-Financial Crisis regulatory reforms, consolidation and bankruptcies, and the resulting drop of about 60% in balance sheets (which has recovered partially with new entrants to the market and international banks’ increases due to regulatory arbitrage) being used for broker/dealer respective repo matched books, new pathways/pipelines needed to be explored for cash provider and collateral provider clients. My former baby, AVM’s Direct Repo™, was the first of one of such pathways, over 10 years ago. Since then, many other liquidity pathways to these markets have been created, including: the Federal Reserve’s RRP program with cash providers, peer-to-peer financing as reported on Treasury OFR’s website between MMFs and Insurance Companies, As Agented repo through seclending agents and some prime brokers to buyside clients, direct lending from beneficial owners to hedge funds who are short via their agents, indemnified As Agent repo, buyside to buyside Triparty Repo through two international clearing organizations of their custodial clients, electronic all-to-all repo on a few electronic trading platforms like (Elixium, BNY DBVX, State Street’s Cash Cross), FICC’s sponsored repo and cleared repo products for certain sectors of the buyside into that CCP, dealer to dealer and some clients electronic trading platforms (like GLMX, HQLA, and Tradeweb), other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (particularly in Europe, like Eurex, LCH, OCC, CME, etc.), total return swaps platforms (like WeMatch.com), and collateralized loan exchanges like AFX/CBOE. There have still been other firms that have created some king of product that mimics a repo, but yet doesn’t show up on dealers’ balance sheets (so helps them), and/or provides better credit counterparties (so helps clients), and can take many forms. I believe this overall evolution will continue and eventually we will see all of these pathways used in some part, including the traditional pathway (to probably a lesser than historical degree) through the broker/dealers and prime brokers. Some of that balance sheet has returned, as I mentioned above, but maybe for only select ‘platinum’ clients and may come at a higher bid/offer spread or in specific, more profitable products/securities, as other market observers/experts have said.

Securities Finance Industry Conferences:
 

• Deutsche Borse/Clearstream held its annual conference this week in Luxembourg, which I attended last year.
• IMN 25th Beneficial Owners International Securities Finance and Collateral Management Conference was held in Fort Lauderdale, FL on 2/5-2/6. I was chosen as the Chairperson.
• Finadium held a new conference on the Business of Collateral Trading in Frankfurt, Germany on 2/21.
• IMN held its annual Fixed Income Investor Network in Las Vegas on 2/24.
• iMoneyNet held its annual MMExpo in Middleburg, VA 3/4-3/6.
• PASLA/RMA held its 16th annual Conference on Asian Securities Lending in Sydney, Australia 3/5-3/7.
• GIOA held its 15th annual conference in Las Vegas 3/20-3/22.
• Crane Data held its annual Bond Fund Symposium in Philadelphia on 3/25-3/26.
• Finadium held its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference in NYC on 5/2-5/3.
• GFOA held its 113th annual conference in Los Angeles on 5/19-5/22.
• Securities Lending Times held its annual Securities Finance Technology Symposium in London on 5/9.
• IMN held its annual Global ABS conference in Barcelona, Spain on 6/11-6/13.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income Leaders USA Summit in Philadelphia, PA on 6/18-6/20.
• ISLA held its Securities Finance and Collateral Management conference in Madrid this week.
• Crane Data held its annual Money Fund Symposium on 6/24-6/26 in Boston.
• Hedge Fund Association held its Rooftop Social in NYC on 6/27.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income & FX Leader Summit in Singapore on 9/17-9/19.
• IHS Markit in conjunction with Opal Group will hold a Securities Finance Forum in NYC on 9/17.
• IMN will hold its annual ABS East conference in Miami Beach, FL on 9/22-9/24.
• IMN will hold its annual European Securities Finance conference in London on 9/25-9/26.
• Crane Data will hold its annual European Money Fund Symposium in Dublin, Ireland on 9/23-24.
• Finadium will hold its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference Europe in London on 9/24.
• National Association of State Treasurers will hold its annual conference in Naples, FL on 10/6-10/9.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its Fixed Income Leaders conference in Barcelona on 10/7-10/9.
• RMA will hold its 37th annual Conference on Securities Finance and Collateral Management in Boca Raton, FL on October 14-17. I will be seeing many of you there/here. I haven’t missed an RMA and I’m not going to start now!
• American Financial Professionals (AFP) will hold its gigantic annual conference in Boston, MA on 10/20-10/23.
• Finadium will hold its Rates & Repo conference in New York on 11/4
• Risk.net will hold its 25th annual Risk USA conference in NYC on November 5-6.
• SIFMA will hold its annual Meeting in Washington, DC on 11/18-11/20.

Federal Reserve News:

The Fed Funds rate, which is still the target rate of Federal Reserve monetary policy and changes to which are made by and announced by the FOMC at regularly scheduled meetings, is currently set at 1.75-2.00% (remember, the Fed has been using a target ‘range’ for a while), after the FOMC lowered it on 7/31/19 and again on 9/18/19. The Effective Fed Funds Rate (EFFR), as reported by the Federal Reserve, was 1.88% on 10/1/19.

The Overnight Bank Funding Rate (OBFR), is also published by the NY Fed to capture the volume-weighted median of overnight federal funds transactions, Eurodollar transactions, and the domestic deposits reported by banks. That rate on 10/1/19 was 1.85%.

The Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) is supposed to be a broad measure of the cost of borrowing cash overnight collateralized by US Treasury securities. It is also reported by the NY Fed on its website. It has been controversial and has been considered as a possible replacement for LIBOR. SOFR includes trades in the Broad General Collateral Rate of Repo plus bilateral Treasury Repo transactions cleared through the DVP services at CCP FICC, ostensibly filtering out issues trading Special. However, critics (and I am one) say that it only picks up the Offered Side of Repo (not a median), that it only picks up the small amount of DVP transactions cleared at FICC and Triparty Repo done at Bank of NY, ignoring the growing amount of bilateral (non-Triparty) repo being done peer-to-peer, dealer-to-dealer, and client-to-dealer, outside of FICC. It is a good representation of where Money Funds (except for a few savvy ones who trade peer-to-peer) are paid on their cash versus US Treasuries in Repo each day by broker/dealers. It almost completely ignores other sectors, particularly buyside clients with collateral. That all being said, the current SOFR reported by the Fed for 10/1/19 was 1.88%.

The next FOMC meetings are: 10/30/19, 12/11/19, 1/29/20.

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (mostly banks, GSEs, and MMFs) is used as a tool by the Federal Reserve, along with its Fed Funds target-setting monetary policy, and IOER for depository institutions, to help control short-term interest rates. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight. Remember when RRP was trading at year-end for $465 billion? Well, on 5/15/19, there was only $20 million in bids submitted. MMF cash and GSE cash has moved out of the Fed’s RRP and into the Repo market. So, if RRP is not extinct, it is certainly now dormant, occasionally coming out of hibernation for year-ends and quarter-ends, when liquidity becomes very strange.

In December 2018, at the FOMC meeting, the Federal Reserve signaled that it would raise the benchmark Fed Funds rate to 2.50% at the December FOMC meeting, 3.00% in 2019, and 3.50% in 2020. If you are keeping score, the Federal Reserve raised the Fed Funds target rate on these dates so far:

12/15/15 to 0.50%
12/14/16 to 0.75%
3/5/17 to 1.00%
6/14/17 to 1.25%
12/13/17 to 1.50%
3/21/18 to 1.75%
6/13/18 to 2.00%
9/26/18 to 2.25%
12/13/18 to 2.50%

But, then the Federal Reserve paused. Suddenly, on 7/31/19, the Fed eased the Fed Funds target rate to 2.25%, and then did another rate cut by 0.25% to 2.00% on 9/18/19. Technically, that rate is the top end of a 25bp rate spread that the Fed considers its current target rate (1.75%-2.00%). The reversal in monetary policy is expected to continue, with perhaps one more rate cut by the Fed in 2019.

Quantitative Easing was ‘tapered off’ in 2013. The Fed still had $4 trillion of debt in 2017 on its books from that QE. In October 2017, it began allowing those holdings to gradually decline. For reference, the Fed Funds target rate was 5.25% before the Fed cut of 9/18/2007, at or near the beginning of the Financial Crisis.

I personally think the Federal Reserve (and the US Treasury) could use an industry consultant with nearly 37 years of experience in the securities financing market and who has worked extensively in sell-side, buy-side, and vender firms, giving him/her a unique and neutral perspective. I know someone like that.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

Globally, the Earth’s crust is still very active, especially along the Pacific Rim and in Chile. These are just the earthquakes over the last 3 days! Latest strong earthquakes (4.5 magnitude and above):

10/2 4.8 81km SE of San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
10/2 5.1 196km W of Abepura, Indonesia
10/2 5.0 66km NNE of Xujiaba, China
10/2 4.7 Carlsberg Ridge
10/2 5.2 39km S of San Mateo del Mar, Mexico
10/2 4.7 147km W of Coquimbo, Chile
10/2 4.8 223km E of Yamada, Japan
10/1 5.2 Southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge
10/1 5.5 91km SSW of Macquarie Island
10/1 4.6 79km NW of San Antonio de los Colores, Argentina
10/1 4.5 241km SE of Amahai, Indonesia
10/1 4.5 46km SSE of Caucete, Argentina
10/1 5.2 Broken Ridge
10/1 4.9 254km NNW of Farallon de Pajaros, Nothern Mariana Islands
10/1 5.3 37km SE of Wairoa, New Zealand
10/1 5.9 Southern East Pacific Rise
9/30 4.5 9km NE of Cruz Grande, Mexico
9/30 4.6 58km ESE of Madang, Papua New Guinea
9/30 5.0 94km ESE of Ol’ga, Russia
9/30 4.6 128km SW of Kokopo, Papua New Guinea
9/30 4.7 142km SSE of Lambasa, Fiji
9/30 4.7 140km SSE of Lambasa, Fiji
9/30 4.5 45km N of Arzak, China
9/30 5.6 40km NE of Calama, Chile
9/30 4.7 Kuril Islands
9/30 4.8 158km WNW of Constitucion, Chile
9/30 4.7 42km ESE of General Luna, Philippines
9/30 4.7 50km WSW of Constitucion, Chile
9/30 4.9 121km SW of Kokopo, Papua New Guinea

Weather:

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began June 1st and ends November 30th. For 2018, Colorado State University experts had predicted an above average season of 14 named Tropical Storms, of which 7 would become Hurricanes. Both are above the averages of 12 and 6, respectively. But, there were 15 named Tropical Storms, of which 8 were hurricanes, and 2 of them major. So, they underestimated.

Hurricane officials were warning Floridians to prepare in advance of the 2019 storm season. There are several national meteorological services and scientific agencies that forecast how many named storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes (above Category 3). TSR, CSU, and The Weather Company were similar numbers, while NCU was higher. CSU has been the most used and they forecast for 2019 a near-average season of 13 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes. We have already had 12 named storms, and have only just reached the historically busiest month. Hurricane Lorenzo is bearing down on Ireland and Great Britain, having spun North and East from the Caribbean. It still has 80mph winds.

The Hurricane names for the 2019 North Atlantic season are:

Andrea-x
Barry-x
Chantal-x
Dorian-x
Erin-x
Fernand-x
Gabrielle-x
Humberto-x
Imelda-x
Jerry-x
Karen-x
Lorenzo-x
Melissa
Nestor
Olga
Pablo
Rebekah
Sebastian
Tanya
Van
Wendy

The Pacific Hurricane Season started 5/1/18 and ends 11/1/18.

Eastern North Pacific currently has no activity to report, after just having 3 tropical cyclones come through. Central North Pacific currently has no activity to report.

As for the weather, starting with the heat, after setting an all-time Florida record high average temperature for May, June and July, respectively, temperatures have moderated slightly, by about 5-10 degrees, bringing down the daily heat indices of 105-110. However, after two months of nearly daily thunderstorms, most counties of Florida (including Palm Beach County) set a 100-year record DRY September, with only 1.39 inches of rain here in PBC. I’m sure you saw that wedding picture from Washington State this weekend, in which it snowed on the bride and groom. A massive snowstorm dumped 4 feet of snow on Montana this weekend. Early snows are being seen in the Pacific Northwest and the Rockies. Temperatures are plummeting into the 20s and 30s. Rain is expected over the Plain States, Texas, and Louisiana, where temperatures will be in the 60s and 70s. New York and New England will see rain, some mix, and snow in northern Maine, where temperatures will range between 30s and 50s. Florida should see a pick up in rain and hopefully a lessening of the last 5 days of 30mph winds. Temperatures should moderate in the mid-to-high 80s. The South has been so hot for months that there is now a ‘flash drought’.

Sports News:

MLB:

The MLB regular season began 3/28 this year and ended on 9/30 (more than 6 months). The Postseason will now begin with one game Wild Card playoffs in both the AL and the NL, then the Wild Card winner against one of the Division winners in both Leagues, followed by Division Championships, and ultimately, the World Series, of the best of the AL and the NL. The 2018 World Series Champion Red Sox did not start well, suffered injuries to starting pitching and loss of both closers to free agency, and became the tenth team to win a World Series and not make the Playoffs the following year. Not unexpectedly, they fired their 3-year GM Dave Dumbowski. They have a lot of key players who will become free agents after the 2020 season, which poses the question of whether they will keep them to win one more time, or follow owner John Henry’s plan to lower payroll for the team and trade key players for the future. This will likely be as painful an off-season for us Red Sox fans, as it was a regular season. The Red Sox president has admitted it will be “difficult” to keep both Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez. I think the majority of you readers are Yankee fans (although I never took a poll), so you’re ecstatic that the Yankees have indeed made the Postseason and are one of the strongest contenders, after having fallen just short in 2018.

The Red Sox were obviously not the only team expected to do well that did not do well in 2019, as is evidenced by the 16% drop in MLB attendance in 2019 over 2018. The end of a sports regular season is always coupled with a list of fired coaches and managers and GMs. Here is 2019’s casualty list (and available positions):

¥ Cubs manager-Joe Maddon
¥ Pirates manager-Clint Hurdle
¥ Angels manager-Brad Ausmus
¥ Royals manager
¥ Giants manager-Bruce Bochy
¥ Padres manager-Andy Green
¥ Red Sox GM-Dave Dombrowski
¥ Mets manager-Mickey Callaway

Looking ahead to the playoffs, the Astros had the best record in the AL, beating out the Yankees and Twins. So, the A’s played the Rays in the one-game Wild Card playoff, while the Astros waited for the winner of that game. The Rays won 5-1, eliminating the A’s from the postseason. The Yankees will play the Twins, who they have owned recently. The Indians and Red Sox fell short of the Wild Card playoffs. Today, the ALDS best of 5 series begin with the Rays at the Astros and the Twins at the Yankees. In the NL, the Dodgers, by far, had the best record, over the Braves. The NL Wild Card Playoff game was between the red hot Nationals and the Brewers, who were just eclipsed by the Cardinals for the NL Central. The Nationals had just beaten the Brewers in and exciting game of the final season. Then, on Tuesday night they repeated with another exciting close win over the Brewers, 4-3, eliminating the Brewers from the postseason. The Nationals will now face the Dodgers, and in fact lost Game 1 of their best of 5 NLDS 6-0 on Thursday night. Game 2 is tonight. Meanwhile, the Braves now play Cardinals, and actually lost Game 1 7-6 on Thursday night, in their best of 5 NLDS. Game 2 is tonight. The Mets, Diamondbacks, and Cubs fell short of the Playoffs. Interestingly, the A’s have as many wins as every National League playoff team except the Dodgers and the Rays have more wins than the Cardinals, Nationals, and Brewers. So, the AL overall has stronger records than the NL it was a small triumph that the Nationals, perennially strong starters and analysts’ favorites, finally made the Playoffs. And they had to beat the Brewers in the last game of the season to make it, which is ironic, since that’s their opponent in the one-game Wild Card Playoff too.

The Giants are planning to move their bullpens behind the outfield wall, reducing foul territory and will change Oracle Park. The Nationals offered Anthony Rendon a massive 7-year/$200 million extension. A Houston businessman has bet $3.5 million on the Astros to win the World Series.

Golf:

The FedEx Cup finally ended with Rory McIlroy winning the $15 million check. The PGA Tour took a 15-day break after that, then resumed the Fall season, with 11 tournaments. On Wednesday, World No.1 Brooks Koepka revealed that he recently (after the Tour Championship) underwent stem-cell treatment to repair a partially torn patella tendon in his left knee. That’s why he didn’t practice before any non-major tournament last year, because of the pain. This week, the PGA Tour is at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, where Koepka will debut for his 2019-2020 season. Koepka was also given the Player of the Year Award for 2018-2019. He made it clear in the press conference that he doesn’t play for awards, he plays for titles. The European Tour unveiled its schedule for 2020 season:

¥ 11/28-12/1/19 Hong Kong Open
¥ 11/28-12/1/19 Alfred Dunhill Championship
¥ 12/5-12/8/19 Afrasia Bank Mauritius Open
¥ 12/19-12/22/19 Australian PGA Championship
¥ 1/9-1/12/20 South African Open
¥ 1/16-1/19 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
¥ 1/23-1/26 Omega Dubai Desert Classic
¥ 1/30-2/2 Saudi International
¥ 2/6-2/9 ISPS Handa Vic Open
¥ 2/20-2/23 WGC-Mexico Championship
¥ 2/27-3/1 Oman Open
¥ 3/5-3/8 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters
¥ 3/12-3/15 Magical Kenya
¥ 3/19-3/22 Hero Indian Open
¥ 3/25-3/29 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
¥ 4/9-4/12 The Masters
¥ 4/16-4/19 Maybank Championship
¥ 4/23-4/26 Volvo China Open
¥ 4/30-5/3 Estrella D. Andalucia Masters
¥ 5/9-5/10 GolfSixes Cascals
¥ 5/14-5/17 US PGA Championship
¥ 5/21-5/24 Made in Denmark
¥ 5/28-5/31 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open
¥ 6/4-6/7 Trophee Hassan II
¥ 6/11-6/14 Scandinavian Invitation
¥ 6/18-6/21 US Open
¥ 6/25-6/28 BMW International Open
¥ you have to believe that I had no idea this would be so long and that I just wanted to be helpful/informational…
¥ 7/2-7/5 Open de France
¥ 7/2-7/5 WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational
¥ 7/9-7/12 Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open
¥ 7/16-7/19 The 149th Open (British Open)
¥ 7/30-8/2 Betfred British Masters
¥ 7/30-8/2 Olympic Men’s Golf Competition
¥ 8/6-8/9 UK event
¥ 8/20-8/23 D+D Real Czech Masters
¥ 8/27-8/30 Omega European Masters
¥ 9/3-9/6 Porsche European Open
¥ at least I can keep this in the Commentary and just update it for the next year…
¥ 9/10-9/13 BMW PGA Championship
¥ 9/17-9/20 KLM Open
¥ 9/25-9/27 The 2020 Ryder Cup
¥ 10/1-10/4 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
¥ 10/8-10/11 Italian Open
¥ 10/15-10/18 Mutuactivos Open de Espana
¥ 10/22-10/25 Portugal Masters
¥ 10/29-11/1 WGC-HSC Champions
¥ 11/5-11/8 Turkish Airlines Open
¥ 11/12-11/15 Nedbank Golf Challenge
¥ 11/19-11/22 DP World Tour Championship

NFL:

The 99th NFL regular season ended with the New England Patriots beating the Los Angeles Rams in a defensive battle 13-3 in the Super Bowl. The 100th NFL season began 4 games/weeks ago. It has been remarkable for low-scoring defensive battles, a few blowouts, and a remarkable number of starting QB injuries (7)! It has also featured more than the usual number of bad record/bad teams. Currently, there are 6 winless teams and several others that are just flailing. This, so far, has been a season that LACKS parity, maybe because of free agency or weird events. I can’t go on, without mentioning superstar WR Antonio Brown. So, he was one of the 3 stars of the Pittsburgh Steelers, until he became a problem in contract negotiations, and was traded to the Raiders. There, he became a problem in showing up for practice, in wearing his new protective helmet, in fighting with his coaches, and being accused of sexual battery. Even the Raiders, who have historically had their share of bad boys, decided to end their relationship with AB. He was snatched up by the Patriots, who were already full of superstar WRs. He lasted one game and one TD, before more charges against him appeared, and the Pats cut their losses. He is still hoping to be hired by another NFL team this season, while his legal battles continue in court. I was actually shocked that the Patriots picked up AB on waivers, given the charges against him, until one of my wiseguy friends said “hey, aren’t the Patriots the team that had a tight end who killed someone during a bye week in a season?” That shut me up.

So, let me tell you what I think about each team, so far, in 2019, this early in the season. So far, I’ve survived my pool (I really hate to call it a ‘suicide pool’, I wish they had a better term for it, I’m going to call it a ‘survivor pool’). If you have one of those ‘survivor pools’ too, then it hasn’t hurt you to take whatever team is playing the lowly Dolphins, despite this past weekend’s first half against the Chargers. That was only because I picked the Chargers and the Chargers decided not to play a healthy star RB Melvin Gordon. Of course, this week, the Dolphins have a bye, so I need to find another underperformer to lose to a good team. But, the Dolphins haven’t been the only disappointing NFL team in the AFC East. The Jets, with new superstar bizarre holdout Le’Veon Bell (and I love him from the Spartans), are awful. Sorry, they just are. The Bengals, who have usually contended with the Steelers in the AFC North, are 0-4 and just got pummeled Monday night by their rival Steelers, who are now without Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, and QB Big Ben. I’m not sure who is still on the Steelers’ roster. Oh, let’s go back to the starting QB issue in the NFL. So, for the 4th year in a row, the NFL decides to institute QB protection rules and penalties that basically limit a defender to tackle a QB only while he has the ball, between the shoulders and the hip, without the helmet, with no arm or hand to the face, only when he has the ball, and without putting his weight on him. So, probably more than half of the sacks in NFL history would have been penalized. And, yet, with such protection for arguably the most important player in the game (don’t get me started on placekickers!), has in 4 weeks, yielded 7 of 32 starting QBs injured, some for the entire season. That’s like high repo rates, despite Fed inter…oh, never mind. So, if you are fans of these teams, many perennial playoff teams, you are no doubt biting your nails down to the core, watching guys you don’t know who are either journeymen or the guy you just drafted from college: Steelers, Saints, Bills, Bears, Panthers, Colts (retired unexpectedly from injuries), Jets, Raiders, and Jaguars. Hmmm, that was 9 teams. The Raiders apparently had another problem on their hands, as longtime rule-violator, Vontaze Burfict, hit a defenseless receiver in the head in the last game, against the Colts, and was ejected. Then, the NFL decided it had had enough and suspended him for the rest of the season without pay. Just to pour salt in Coach Jon Gruden’s wounds, Bears’ all-star LB Khalil Mack, who the Raiders traded for 3 draft picks, says he expected to be a Raider “for a long haul.” He gets to play against his former team, as a Bear, next Sunday, in London. More Gruden news, A. Stephens is hearing rumors that Jon’s brother, Jay, may get fired as coach of the winless Redskins. Reportedly, Patriots’ placekicker, Stephen Gostkowski, who missed a rare 4 kicks in a row (field goals and points after) needs season-ending surgery. The Raiders and Bears will be playing in London this Sunday. Longtime Cardinals owner, Bill Bidwell (ironically one of my nicknames in the Biz), has died at age 88. Bears LB Roquan Smith is back at practice and may be ready to play Week 5 in London. Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill is resuming practice after his shoulder injury. Colts GM is raving about QB Jacoby Brissett, Tom Brady’s former backup. Hmmm, and the Colts are playing the Chiefs…

After just 4 weeks:

AFC East-the Patriots are 4-0, but the Bills have shown some great defense and are 3-1.

AFC North-the Cleveland Browns, expected to excel this year, have managed to be 2-2, tied with the strong offense of the Baltimore Ravens.

AFC South-the Houston Texans, also expected to be stronger, have managed to be 2-2, tied with the Luckless Colts, Foles-less Jaguars, and Titans.

AFC West-the KC Chiefs have gone undefeated 4-0 over the first 4 weeks, but it wasn’t always easy. The rest of the division is at least 2 games behind.

NFC East-the Cowboys have come out roaring at 3-1, ahead of the perennially strong Eagles, and suddenly struggling Redskins.

NFC North-the Packers have been surprisingly strong and the Bears are relying on their defense. The Lions and the Vikings have surprisingly stumbled.
NFC South-the Saints, after losing the other GOAT, QB Drew Brees, have somehow managed to stay atop the division at 3-1.. The Bucs have been surprisingly strong, just beating the Rams in a shootout. The Panthers are hanging on without QB Cam Newton, but the Falcons are underwhelming.

NFC West-the 49ers have become the real deal, rebuilding in just 2 years, now at 3-0. The Seahawks were expected to reign, but stumbled out of the gate, and are now 3-1, tied with the Rams, who have been inconsistent. The Cardinals are in disarray.

The AAF, which was co-founded by Charlie Ebersol, and supported by the NFL as a developmental league, was folded by the NFL just 6 games into the Spring season this year. It is not to be confused with the XFL, which was launched 17 years ago, by Dick Ebersol of NBC, Charlie’s father. The XFL will re-launch in 2020.

In case you are already looking forward to Super Bowl LIV, which will be held here in Miami, tickets and TD club package start at $5000 per person. Other packages start at $10,000 per person.

NCAA Football:

We have now played 5 weeks of the 15-week regular season. It was really weird starting out without Alabama on top of the AP Top 25 poll, where they perennially start at No.1. But, since Clemson won the BCS National Championship last year, they were No.1 to start the season. However, Alabama is back up there at No.1 again. Some serious excitement already, especially with Monday’s news of California’s Fair Pay to Play Act, which will allow college athletes to be paid for endorsements (profiting off their name, image, and likeness), sell autographs and merchandise, accept endorsement deals, and hire agents, starting in 2023. Maybe the most important/profitable part will be that they can sell their image to appear in a college sports video game. The last licensed college football video game came out in 2013. The last licensed college basketball video game came out in 2009. There are still 14 undefeated teams in the Top 25.

The current AP Top 25 Poll:
1. Alabama
2. Clemson
3. Georgia
4. Ohio State
5. LSU
6. Oklahoma
7. Auburn
8. Wisconsin
9. Notre Dame
10. Florida
11. Texas
12. Penn State
13. Oregon
14. Iowa
15. Washington
16. Boise State
17. Utah
18. UCF
19. Michigan
20. Arizona State
21. Oklahoma State
22. Wake Forest
23. Virginia
24. SMU
25. Michigan State (okay it’s really Texas A&M in this poll)

Week 6 games to watch (especially with *):

*No.18 UCF @ Cincinnati
Utah State @ No.5 LSU
*No.6 Oklahoma @ Kansas
*No.14 Iowa @ No.19 Michigan
*No.21 Oklahoma State @ Texas Tech
Kent State @ No.8 Wisconsin
Purdue @ No.12 Penn State
*No.11 Texas @ West Virginia
*No.7 Auburn @ No.10 Florida
Bowling Green @ No.9 Notre Dame
No.3 Georgia @ Tennessee
No.25 Michigan State @ No.4 Ohio State
Tulsa @ No.24 SMU
Cal @ No.13 Oregon
No.16 Boise State @ UNLV
No.15 Washington @ Stanford

NHL:

The puck dropped on the regular season, for some of the 31 teams, on 10/3/18. It ended in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals on 6/12, when the St. Louis Blues beat my Bruins 4-3 in the Finals. The Blues were in last place in their division in January and wound up winning it all. The Blues gave their superfan, Laila Anderson, a Stanley Cup championship ring. The NHL is finishing up free agency signings. This season began Wednesday 10/2/19 for 8 of the 31 teams. Jets journeyman, Lee Stempniak, has retired. Sharks’ Evander Kane begins the season with a 3-game suspension for abusing and shoving an official. Canucks Sven Baertschi has been waived. The Hurricanes have named new captain, Jordan Staal. Flames signed Tobias Rieder and Zac Rinaldo to one-year deals. Kyle Connor and Jets agreed to 7year/$50 million contract. Avalanche and Mikko Rantanen agree to 6-year/$55.5 million deal. Sidney Crosby’s number will be retired across QMJHL.

NBA:

The NBA season officially began on 10/3/18 as well. It officially ended with the underdogs, the Toronto Raptors, ousting the favorite Golden State Warriors in six games. This year, the NBA season does not start until 10/22/19. Dwight Howard has been impressive in Lakers camp. Warriors star Klay Thompson won’t return until after All-Star break.

Olympics:

The hype for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo has officially begun. You may have already heard that there will be some new sports added and some sports returning. The Olympic Channel has announced that it will present 300 hours of coverage of the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics in Lausanne, from January 9 to January 22. In those 13 days, 1,880 athletes will compete in 8 sports across 16 disciplines in 81 medal events. New events will include monobob bobsleigh and ski mountaineering.

Tennis:

US Open winner, Bianca Andreescu, just posted her 16th straight win. No.1 Djokovic is continuing his Tokyo title quest, at the ATP Tokyo, 4 weeks after his US Open. Nadal, Federer, and Murray are at the ATP Beijing China Open, which is also being played now.

Horse Racing:

Los Angeles could soon be the first major city to ban horse racing. The Breeders Cup will be at Santa Anita Park 11/1 and 11/2.

Racing:

Last year’s champion, his first, for the NASCAR Cup Series was Joey Logano, who beat Martin Truex Jr. in the final 15 laps of the final race at Homestead. Truex Jr. won the crown in 2017. The 2019 regular season has just completed and the Playoffs are in full gear. Here is the complete schedule of races for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup in 2019 and the results:

2/17 Daytona 500, won by Denny Hamlin
2/24 Atlanta, QuickTrip 500, won by Brad Keselowski
3/3 Las Vegas-Joey Logano
3/10 ISM Raceway-Kyle Busch
3/17 Auto Club-Kyle Busch
3/24 Martinsville-Brad Keselowski
3/31 Texas-Denny Hamlin
4/7 Bristol-Kyle Busch
4/13 Richmond-Martin Truex Jr.
4/28 Talladega-Chase Elliott
5/5 Dover-won by Martin Truex Jr.
5/11 Kansas-won by Brad Keselowski
5/18 All-Star Open Charlotte-won by Austin Dillon
5/26 Charlotte, Coca-Cola 600-won by Martin Truex Jr.
6/2 Pocono, Pocono 400-won by Kyle Busch
6/9 Michigan, Firekeepers Casino 400-won by Joey Logano
6/23 Sonoma, Save Mart 350-won by Martin Truex Jr.
6/30 Chicago, Camping World 400-won by Alex Bowman
7/7 Daytona, Coke Zero 400-won by Austin Haley
7/13 Kentucky, Quaker State 400-won by Kurt Busch
7/21 New Hampshire, Foxwoods Resort Casino 301-won by Kevin Harvick
7/28 Pocono, Gander RV 400-Denny Hamlin
8/4 Watkins Glen, GoBowling at The Glen-Chase Elliott
8/11 Michigan, Consumers Energy 400-Kevin Harvick
8/17 Bristol, Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race-Denny Hamlin
9/1 Darlington, Bojangles’ Southern 500-Erik Jones
9/8 Indianapolis, Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard-Kevin Harvick
9/15 Las Vegas playoff-South Point 400-Martin Truex, Jr.
9/21 Richmond playoff-Martin Truex, Jr.
9/29 Charlotte playoff-Chase Elliott
10/6 Dover playoff
10/13 Talladega playoff
10/20 Kansas playoff
10/27 Martinsville playoff
11/3 Texas playoff
11/10 ISM Raceway playoff
11/17 Miami-Homestead final playoff

Formula One began with F1 Car Launch Dates for the various teams from 2/12 through 2/15 for Renault, Racing Point, McLaren, and Ferrari. That was followed by Pre-Season Testing schedule 2/18-2/21 and 2/26-3/1, both in Catalunya, Spain. Here is the 2019 Formula One 21 Race calendar and results (it might be easier to just say which races were not won by Lewis Hamilton):

3/17 Australia Grand Prix in Melbourne-won by V. Bottas
3/31 Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir-won by Lewis Hamilton
4/14 China Grand Prix in Shanghai (this will be the 1000th Grand Prix)-won by Lewis Hamilton
4/28 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku-won by V. Bottas
5/12 Spain Grand Prix in Barcelona-won by Lewis Hamilton
5/26 Monaco Grand Prix in Monaco-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/9 Canada Grand Prix in Montreal-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/23 France Grand Prix in Le Castellet-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/30 Austria Grand Prix in Spielberg-won by Max Verstappen
7/14 Great Britain Grand Prix in Silverstone-won by Lewis Hamilton
7/28 Germany Grand Prix in Hockenheim-won by Max Verstappen
8/4 Hungary Grand Prix in Budapest-Lewis Hamilton
9/1 Belgium Grand Prix in Spa-Charles Leclerc
9/8 Italy Grand Prix in Monza-Charles Leclerc
9/22 Singapore Grand Prix in Singapore-Sebastian Vettel
9/29 Russia Grand Prix in Sochi-Lewis Hamilton
10/13 Japan Grand Prix in Suzuka
10/27 Mexico Grand Prix in Mexico City
11/3 USA Grand Prix in Austin, TX
11/17 Brazil Grand Prix in Sao Paulo
12/1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Yas Island

Here is the IndyCar Racing circuit and its 2019 calendar and results (Indy cars are generally considered faster than F1 car along straight lines, mostly because their races are on oval tracks, while F1 tracks are more intricate, requiring better brakes and more aerodynamic grip than Indy cars). The season just ended, with Josef Newgarden coming in 8th in the last race, to just edge out Simon Pagenaud for championship:

3/10 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg-Josef Newgarden
3/24 Circuit of the Americas-Colton Herta
4/7 Grand Prix of Alabama-Takuma Sato
4/14 Grand Prix at Long Beach-Alexander Rossi
5/11 Grand Prix of Indianapolis-Simon Pagenaud
5/26 Indianapolis 500-Simon Pagenaud
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 1-Josef Newgarden
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 2-Scott Dixon
6/8 Texas Grand Prix-Josef Newgarden
6/23 Road America-Alexander Rossi
7/14 Honda Indy Toronto-Simon Pagenaud
7/20 Iowa 300-Josef Newgarden
7/28 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio-Scott Dixon
8/18 Pocono Grand Prix-Will Power (I love that name!)
8/24 Gateway Grand Prix-Takuma Sato
9/1 Grand Prix of Portland-Will Power (that’s all it takes)
9/22 Grand Prix at Laguna Seca-Colton Herta

Travel News:

Legoland just announced the opening date of its New York resort: July 4, 2020. It will be the largest LegoLand ever built, containing seven themed lands packed with more than 50 rides, attractions, and events over 150 acres. More than 15,000 Lego models will be shipped to the New York location from around the world. A 28-year-old tourist died after climbing over the safety barrier at Grand Canyon Skywalk. For your Wedding Registry at Bed Bath & Beyond, you can now add spa getaways, goat yoga, and shark cage diving. A Delta employee at JFK has been arrested, after a bag containing $258,205 in cash went missing. Saudi Arabia is issuing tourist visas for the first time ever. China just opened the world’s largest airport, Beijing Daxing International Airport. It measures more than 700,000 square meters. Congress is considering a bill that would abolish “unfair and deceptive’”resort fees. Ski.com has an incredible new ‘dream job’ for 12 lucky people to travel the world and check out beaches and ski destinations, and they’ll pay you $2200/month. Virgin Atlantic has now debuted a new plane that has an onboard lounge. Pressure mounts on GM to make a deal, as the autoworker strike there has dragged into its 19th day.

Health News:

Okay, I’m ready for you Northerners to invade for the RMA conference in October in Boca Raton, and the snowbirds to come down, as I got my flu shot two weeks ago. Government agencies are sounding the alarm over lead paint and want home buyers to take these dangers seriously and address remediation more quickly. Your new favorite Christmas candy is predicted to be new Sweet Cinnamon Kit Kat bars. This week, you can get McDonald’s Big Macs delivered straight to your door for just one cent. There are now 3 FDA-approved medications to treat opioid addiction in the US: methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. But, doctors consistently underutilize them. The Mayo Clinic Proceedings review says that of the patients who qualify for the FDA-recommended medications to treat OUD, only 11% actually receive them. For teenage patients, that percentage is frighteningly lower, at 2.4%. Opioid use, particularly among teenagers, has hit epidemic proportions, according to a study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. Here are the figures: in 2017, 900 adolescents began misusing opioids daily. Out of more than 750,000 adolescents who misused opioids in 2018, 12.8%, or roughly 99,000 teens reported symptoms of OUD. Specifically for heroin addiction, only 2.4% of adolescents get treatment with these medications, while more than 26% of adults get treatment with these medications. Hepatitis A outbreaks have flared up across the USA. The vaping crisis has now caused over 1,000 adolescents to wind up in hospitals in the US with respiratory problems, as the FDA and CDC search for the cause. Hopefully, you are reading this soon enough to take advantage of various free taco deals today, National Taco Day (Friday).

Animal News:

On Tuesday, a woman decided she needed to climb into the lion enclosure at the Bronx Zoo and face off with a large male lion, even dancing and taunting the baffled animal. Surprisingly, the animal was so stunned, it just stood and stared at her, until authorities were able to lure it away. It must have been the particular dance steps. Authorities have yet to find the woman, however, even though she posted a rap video online. Adult sea otters at the Monterey Bay Aquarium are adopting orphaned babies. Airbnb is now offering experiences to spend time with and learn about animals. An East Alabama woman has been charged with 47 counts of animal cruelty. Two people were injured in a Colorado elk attack. Of course they were filming too close to the wild animal. Scientists recently discovered that tiny tardigrades are notoriously tough and actually could weather extreme conditions, including nuclear attack, freezing cold, boiling heat, and the vacuum and lethal radiation of space. Scientists located the key ingredient in tardigrades’ arsenal of superpowers and identified it as a damage-suppressor protein called Dsup. Researchers have previously noted that when Dsup was added to human cells, they became safeguarded against damage from X-rays. Now, scientists have discovered that Dsup binds to chromosome structures and protects DNA from the harmful effects of radiation. A trail runner at Antelope Island State Park in Utah was gored by a charging bison in a ‘freak attack’, last Friday, and then his date suffered the same fate. Even though it’s making the news a lot lately, attacks by bison are extremely rare. In just that park in Utah, there are about 700 bison and in the last 10 years, about 4 million people have visited the park, with just 5 bison incidents. Bison are prey, not predators, but become aggressive during mating season (July-September) and will usually charge, but sometimes hit, to defend what they feel is a safe space near them. Since 1980, bison have injured more people in Yellowstone National Park than any other animal has. The experts say don’t try to outrun a bison, because they can reach speeds of about 35 mph. Try to go back the way you came. Taking on the controversial issues of today, I report that there are worms (nematodes) that have 3 sexes thriving in an arsenic-laced lake in California. A walrus attacked and sank a Russian tugboat last week. No nationality was determined for the walrus. Now, that the last male Northern White Rhino has died, leaving just 2 females, scientists have created embryos from the eggs of the last living females in a lab. A newly described species of giant pterosaur (I think pterodactyl), Cryodrakon boreas, was recently identified from fossils found in Canada, and has been nicknamed the ‘Cold Dragon of the North Winds.’ The voracious and invasive Lionfish is taking over the Atlantic Ocean, eating through coral reef after coral reef. The monstrous Tibetan Mastiff dogs were bred with Mountain Wolves to be able to survive at super-high altitudes. The Atlantic great white shark has made a comeback since 1997,, when they went under Federal protection, and sharks are being spotted near beaches in the North Atlantic Ocean, just feet from the shoreline. Scientists are now uncovering secrets of an ancient mystery civilization in Saudi Arabia. Experts are skeptical of the claims that a Royal Tortoise lived to the age of 344-years-old.

Entertainment News:

Since we last spoke, we have lost more celebrities. Celebrity chef Carl Ruiz died at age 44. Legendary TV new pioneer, Cokie Roberts, left us at age 76. The frontman and principal singer of the Cars, Ric Ocasek, stopped singing at age 75. Another famous singer, Eddie Money, was laid to rest at age 70. Legendary oil tycoon T. Boone Pickets passed away at age 91. Movie actress Carol Lynley, died at age 77. Songwriter for Destiny’s Child, Tamar Braxton, Brandy, Monica and others, LaShawn Danield, stopped penning hits at age 42. Today (Friday), Diahann Carroll died at age 84.

Justin Bieber has slammed PETA for criticizing his $35,000 exotic cats. Meanwhile, the Biebs did his first country song with Dan + Shay, “10,000 Hours.” Nicky Hilton says Paris Hilton is a “Great Aunt” to her two kids. There is buzz and praise for Joaquin Phoenix’s approach to JOKER, which diverges from the late Heath Ledger’s portrayal and the portrayal by Jack Nicholson. Country music’s new super group is The Highwomen. 56-year-old Phoebe Cates and husband, Kevin Kline, are still going strong. Grey Anatomy’s breakup is turning bitter. Rachel Lindsay vows to never be a friends with Raven Gates again. Miley Cyrus was spotted kissing Cody Simpson, just two weeks after Kaitlynn Carter split. Queer Eye stars are mourning the sudden death of their beloved French bulldog mascot. Demi Lovato is apologizing after backlash over her trip to Israel. Travis Scott’s rumored mistress is denying involvement in his split with Kylie Jenner. Meanwhile, Khloe Kardashian has “no interest” in reconciling with Tristan Thompson. Actor James Franco has been accused of sexually exploiting female students at his acting school. Prince Harry just publicly reprimanded a British reporter amid ongoing tensions. Joe Giudice has been granted an Italy travel request amid deportation appeal. Josh Duhamel and Miss World America Audra Mari confirm their romance with a steamy public kiss. Fixer Upper fans (and I am one) will rejoice to hear that Chip and Joanna Gaines are opening a hotel. Gwen Stefani, Jennifer Lopez, and Jennifer Aniston have made 50 the new 30. Actor Robert De Niro has been hit with a $12 million sex discrimination and harassment lawsuit from former assistant. Cynthia Erivo plays Aretha Franklin in National Geographic Channel’s Genius series. Below Deck Mediterranean had its finale, which was good for Joao, promoted to Captain by Captain Sandy, but not good for Hannah, as the First Steward was told she doesn’t have a passion for yachting. It was a good season. Now, Below Deck Caribbean begins with Captain Lee, but in Thailand. My Chicago series have all begun bloodily: Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and Chicago PD. Model Gigi Hadid and Tyler Cameron officially split after whirlwind 2 months. Jeff Probst is calling out CBS for spoiling Survivor. They must be in their 25th season by now.

AVENGERS: ENDGAME has started its Oscar campaign for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay, but nothing for Acting. The box-office was weak this past weekend. Debuting at No.1 was ABOMINABLE, with $20.6 million. No.2 was DOWNTON ABBE, the screen adaptation of the wildly popular TV series, which made another $14.3 million in its second week. HUSTLERS continued to make money, raking in another $11.3 million for No.3, in its 3rd week (total of $80.5 million for a $20 million film). No.4 went to IT: CHAPTER TWO, with $10.2 million in its 4th week. Rounding out the top 5 was AD ASTRA, with $10 million in its second week. Another notable debut in limited theaters was JUDY, about Judy Garland, which was only in 461 theaters but made $2.9 million.

This weekend sees the debut of the latest DC Comics adaptation of JOKER, which has generated a lot of attention and is expected to take a shot at the October opening record. That record is held by last year’s VENOM, which made $80.25 million in its debut. Universal’s ABOMINABLE is expected to take No.2, and Universal’s DOWNTON ABBEY in No.3. Other movies opening this week in theaters: WAR, THE CLIMBERS, ASURAN, MY PEOPLE/MY COUNTRY, EL COYOTE, LUCY IN THE SKY, DOLEMITE IS MY NAME, CHANAKYA, OPEN, ROGER WATERS US + THEM, PAIN AND GLORY, SEMPER FI, MEMORY:THE ORIGINS OF ALIEN, 100% KAADHAL, THE PARTS YOU LOSE, CUCK, LOW TIDE, ROGUE WARFARE, WRINKLES THE CLOWN, BATTLE OF JANGSARI, A UNICORN ADVENTURE, WALLFLOWER, and AMERICAN GHANDI.

Martin Scorcese said that the DC and Marvel comic books films are “not cinema”.

Technology & Space News:

Are they going to come up with a 12-step program for this Amazon Prime? It’s seriously like (for all you youngsters) the old Home Shopping Network or QVC on steroids! You search for something on the Internet, find the best price, and click Buy Now, and it arrives the next day! It’s like Ebay without the auction and wait, no offense to those other companies. I can see how this could be very addictive to other people. HP Inc.’s new CEO has unveiled plans to streamline the computer/printer company, including cutting its workforce by as much as 16% over the next 3 years (about 7,000-9,000 people). In Forbes 400, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos tops the list of richest people in the US. Microsoft is showcasing an Android Surface phone. Bed Bath & Beyond is escalating store closings, as it ramps up its online store. GM has debuted its 2020 Corvette Stingray convertible. Ford has debuted its new throwback 2020 Mustang. The US government wants private Whatsapp texts from Facebook. Sony’s cloud video game service has gotten a price cut. The small city of Catalina Island does not sell Windows or Macintosh or smartphones, and the connectivity can be really spotty for the 4,400 inhabitants. But, Catalina Island is featured for the next year as the new Apple computer operating system update, called macOS Catalina, which will feature wallpaper with a beautiful photo of the island, much to the delight of its inhabitants. Apple historically updates its software each year with the name of a different California landmark. Apple had its big annual event right after I wrote the last Repo Commentary. So, if you missed it, Apple Arcade came out to help you enjoy games, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone 11 and Apple Watch Series 5 arrived in stores in 3rd week of September. The new version (Gen 7) of the most popular iPad, featuring a 10.2-inch Retina Display, Smart Keyboard, and Apple Pencil Support hit stores about a week later. iPadOS also became available as free software update for iPad Air 2 and later, all iPad Pro models, iPad 5th Gen and later, And iPad mini 4 and later. Apple Antara opened its doors to Mexico City on 9/27. Apple-launched China Clean Energy Fund invested in 3 wind farms on 9/24. Apple’s new Mac Pro will be made in Texas. Apple’s Fifth Avenue store has its cube back. An unidentified ring-shaped object just floated by the International Space Station.

US News:

An impeachment inquiry has been launched into President Trump. The case of the ex-cop in Dallas who entered the wrong apartment and found a man there who she thought was and intruder, drew on him, and killed him, went to the jury today for sentencing. No doubt, the in-court apology by her to the victim’s brother, who forgave her and then came across the courtroom to give her a long hug, weighed heavily on the jury. 60 Minutes will tell the story this Sunday of the Texas Ranger who convinced serial killer, Samuel Little, to confess to murdering 93 women. Cops are hunting for a Speedo-clad man haunting Kent State sorority. Presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, is still in the hospital after collapsing at a function and having emergency heart surgery. It was bound to happen sooner or later, an Oregon burglar was arrested by police, confessing to using a drone for aerial recon (case) potential burglary targets. Strange lights off the Outer Banks have sparked a debate about aliens or military operations. NYPD has stepped up video surveillance in subways. The Supreme Court has taken up a major Louisiana abortion case. Homeland Security is moving all biometric data to Amazon Cloud. 19 members of US Army 82nd Airborne were injured in a parachuting helicopter crash in Mississippi during training.

International News:

Terror inquiry has been launched into the killing of 4 police employees by a colleague in Paris on Thursday. Thousands of theater goers are protesting Hong Kong’s new emergency measure of banning face masks in public, particularly during more violent protests and in theaters and public places, amid reports of a teenager being shot with a live round. Ukraine’s President Zelensky, looking at a phased peace deal with Russian-backed rebels in the east, is planning a frontline troop withdrawal. The Iraq PM says there is “no magic solution” to unrest in the country, after days of violent protests. An Antonov-12 transport plane crash-landed near Lviv airport in western Ukraine, killing at least 5 people.

Florida:

Right across the street from me, at the Palm Beach Outlet Mall, a worker at Bird in the Hand, and in-store restaurant at Whole Foods, owned by the man who owns the food delivery service Go Cravy, was arrested for stealing a company check and attempting to deposit at a nearby TD Bank for $100,000.

I am usually singing a National Anthem, singing in my 6-part harmony group Generation Gap, and/or doing an Elvis Presley gig, each week here in Palm Beach County, FL. I think I have 3 gigs in the month of October and I did finally break down and buy a performance wig, because of the receding grey hair. However, if you were inclined to see much more famous bands or solos in concert than my Generation Gap or Elvis Presley performances, there were many acts which came to Florida this year, perhaps when you were visiting (I should be getting updated schedules for each venue soon for Q4 and 2020):

The Temptations-Fort Lauderdale, January 31
Don McLean-Immokalee, January 31
Michael Bolton-Fort Lauderdale, February 2
The Four Tops and the Temptations-West Palm Beach, February 2
Melissa Manchester-Aventura, February 8
Michael Bolton-West Palm Beach, February 8
The Commodores-Miami, February 9
Patti LaBelle-Fort Myers, February 11
Duran Duran-Miami Beach, February 12
Franki Valli & the Four Seasons, Hollywood, February 14
Andrea Bocelli-Miami, February 14
Dave Mason-Fort Lauderdale, February 15
Little River Band-Fort Myers, February 15
Michael Buble-Sunrise, February 16 (I would like to go)
Alan Parsons Project-Fort Lauderdale, February 18
Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes-Bonita Springs, February 20
Art Garfunkel-Fort Lauderdale, February 20
Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20
Sarah Brightman-Hollywood, February 20
PGA Honda Classic-PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, February 28-March 2
Pink-Sunrise-March 1 (it was fantastic!)
Sara Mclachlan-March 1, West Palm Beach
Paul Anka-Fort Lauderdale-March 4
Elton John-Sunrise, March 16
Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band-Sunrise, March 17
Steve Miller Band-Hollywood, March 17
Tony Bennett-Miami, March 21
Palm Beach International Boat Show-West Palm Beach, March 28-March 31
Jackson Browne-West Palm Beach, April 3
Abba The Concert-Miami Beach, April 4
The Rolling Stones-Miami, April 20
Whitesnake-Fort Lauderdale, April 25
Slayer-West Palm Beach, May 11
Rascal Flatts-West Palm Beach, May 23
Ariana Grande-Orlando, May 29
Ozzie Osbourne & Megadeth-Sunrise, May 31
Hootie & the Blowfish-West Palm Beach, June 8
Florence and The Machine-Miami, June 9
Train & Goo Goo Dolls-West Palm Beach, July 6
Hugh Jackman-Sunrise, July 6
Jeff Lynnes’ Electric Light Orchestra-Sunrise, July 9
New Kids on the Block, Salt N Pepa, Naughty by Nature-Sunrise, July 14
Iron Maiden-Sunrise, July 18
Dave Matthews Band-West Palm Beach, July 26
Jennifer Lopez-Miami, July 26
Korn & Alice in Chains-West Palm Beach, July 28
Shawn Mendes-Miami, July 28
Queen & Adam Lambert-Sunrise, August 17
Florida Georgia Line-West Palm Beach, August 29
Peter Frampton-West Palm Beach, September 6
Dane Cook-Fort Lauderdale, September 28

Repo Commentary-9/11/19

IMG_4537IMG_1950IMG_4536IMG_4535IMG_2655IMG_1966IMG_1972IMG_1973IMG_2020IMG_2021IMG_1943IMG_1949IMG_1951IMG_1954IMG_1957IMG_1933IMG_1934IMG_1938IMG_1940[1]IMG_1942IMG_1868IMG_1917IMG_1922IMG_1930IMG_1830IMG_1835IMG_1932IMG_1935IMG_1701IMG_1817IMG_1821IMG_1822IMG_1829IMG_1898

I sang my 150th MLB game last Wednesday night in Jupiter, FL. I’m also still singing Elvis gigs with my 6-part harmony group, Generation Gap, all over Palm Beach County. I have graduated to a performance wig due to thinning hair.

I have also been interviewing for jobs, consulting with a few folks, finished with the memoir I ghost-wrote, chaired a conference and attended a few others, and wrote some articles. I am still looking to re-enter the Securities Financing Market, so if you hear of anything… I will be seeing many of you here in Boca Raton at the RMA Conference in October.

My Repo Commentary is posted on my website: http://www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn, the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website, and on CentralBanks.com as an op-ed. I’m trying to make it more frequent, but I’ve been swamped.

If you need to reach me, my cell is still 646-753-1300, my email for work is jeffkidwell82@gmail.com, and you can also hit me up on LinkedIn.

Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my former firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information. I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures. Also, please send me feedback, as I want to make it better all the time. I’m trying a new format for historical data, so let me know what you think. As many of you know, it used to be a daily Repo Commentary back in the 80s and for a long time.

Holidays or Events (9/10):

• Blame It On The Large Hadron Collider Day
• I’m On Top Of It Day
• International Creepy Boston Dynamics Robotic Horse Day
• International Make-Up Day
• National Boss/Employee Exchange Day
• National Swap Ideas Day
• National Hot Dog Day
• Sew Be It Day
• The Beginning of Rosh Hashanah (Judaism)
• TV Dinner Day
• World Suicide Prevention Day
• Amerindian Heritage Day in Guyana
• Children’s Day in Honduras
• Gibraltar National Day
• Saint George’s Caye Day in Belize
• Teachers’ Day in China

On September 10, 2001, the night before, I, along with about 17,000 fellow New Yorkers, attended the Jackson Five reunion, a star-studded event held at Madison Square Garden. Little did we all know that our lives would be forever changed the next morning. I lost many friends, colleagues, clients, and 6 golf partners when the World Trade Center towers collapsed from a ruthless attack by terrorists who commandeered 2 commercial aircraft and flew them into the Towers. It had been almost 60 years since the last time foreigners attacked US soil (Pearl Harbor 12/7/1941).

Precisely, on the morning of 9/11/2001, coordinated terrorist assaults occurred at the World Trade Center in NYC, at the Pentagon, and a foiled attack on Washington, DC that was brought down by brave passengers who sacrificed themselves in a field in Pennsylvania. Terrorists had hijacked 4 US commercial passenger planes and flown them, along with their passengers, into the Twin Towers, the wall of the Pentagon, and in that field. 2,997 civilians, 8 EMTs/paramedics, 60 police officers, and 343 firefighters were killed, and more than 6,000 others injured. 265 of the deaths were passengers and crews on the 4 planes. Many of us lost family members, co-workers, and friends in the attacks. Many people are still struggling with the after-effects of the terrorist attacks, not just because of emotional loss, but also physical harm, as over 7,500 first responders at each of the sites has come down with some form of cancer, many dying. Doctors believe the cancers were caused by the toxic dust and toxic chemicals from the attacks. Recently, President Trump signed into law a bill that would continue the expiring benefits for those first responders and victims of 9/11 until the year 2090.

I was working at Morgan Stanley at the time of the attacks and we had recently merged with Dean Witter Reynolds, so we were the largest occupant of the World Trade Center towers, with some 3500 workers spread over 28 floors. Our hero Security team of 12 were the only Morgan Stanley fatalities, thanks to their valiant efforts to keep employees OUT of the towers, after officials had given the All Clear. I lived next door to St. Patrick’s Cathedral where they held the memorial services for each of the first responders and played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes daily for months. It has an effect on you.

I will never forget 9/11. I have been forever changed. In 2004, I joined Cantor Fitzgerald, who had lost 658 of its employees in Tower 1, to rebuild its Repo Desk, and read the names of those colleagues at the annual memorial service.

May we never forget the tragedy of 9/11/01, the victims and their families, our first responders (many of whom now endure their individual tragedies), and those who fight to protect us ever since.

Some Famous People Born 09/10 in History:

• 920-Louis IV of France
• 1839-Isaac K. Funk, co-founder of Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia
• 1925-Roy Brown, American singer/songwriter
• 1927-Johnny Keating, Scottish trombonist/composer/producer
• 1929-Arnold Palmer, golfer/designer
• 1933-Karl Lagerfeld, German-French fashion designer/photographer
• 1934-Roger Maris, MLB
• 1940-Roy Ayers, American singer/songwriter/musician
• 1941-Gunpei Yokoi, Japanese video game designer, invented Game Boy
• 1945-Jose Feliciano, Puerto Rican singer/songwriter/guitarist
• 1946-Don Powell, English rock drummer (Slade)
• 1947-Larry Nelson, golfer
• 1948-Bob Lanier, NBA
• 1948-Charlie Waters, NFL
• 1949-Barriemore Barlow, English rock drummer/songwriter (Jethro Tull)
• 1949-Bill O’Reilly, American journalist/author
• 1950-Rosie Flores, American singer/guitarist
• 1950-Joe Perry, American singer/songwriter/guitarist
• 1951-Bill Rogers, golfer
• 1953-Amy Irving, American actress
• 1957-Carol Decker, English singer/songwriter (T’Pau)
• 1960-Colin Firth, English actor/producer
• 1963-Randy Johnson, MLB
• 1968-Guy Ritchie, English director/producer/screenwriter
• 1972-James Duval, American actor/producer
• 1974-Ryan Phillippe, American actor/producer
• 1974-Ben Wallace, NBA
• 1983-Joey Votto, MLB
• 1985-Neil Walker, MLB
• 1987-Paul Goldschmidt, MLB

This Day in History (9/10):

• 506-the bishops of Visigothic Gaul meet in the Council of Agde.
• 1419-John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, is assassinated by adherents to the Dauphin, the future Charles VII of France.
• 1509-an earthquake known as “The Lesser Judgment Day” hits Constantinople.
• 1547-the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, the last full-scale military confrontation between England and Scotland, resulting in a decisive victory for the forces of Edward VI.
• 1570-Spanish Jesuit missionaries land in present-day Virginia to establish the short-lived Ajacan Mission.
• 1608-John Smith is elected council president of Jamestown, Virginia.
• 1776-American Revolutionary War: Nathan Hale volunteers to spy for the Continental Army.
• 1798-at the Battle of St. George’s Caye, British Honduras defeats Spain.
• 1813-the United States defeats the British Fleet at the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812.
• 1823-Simon Bolivar is named President of Peru.
• 1846-Elias Howe is granted a patent for the sewing machine.
• 1897-Lattimer massacre: a sheriff’s posse kills 19 unarmed striking immigrant miners in Lattimer, PA.
• 1898-Empress Elisabeth of Austria is assassinated by Luigi Lucheni.
• 1918-Russian Civil War: the Red Army captures Kazan.
• 1919-Austria and the Allies sign the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye recognizing the independence of Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia.
• 1936-the first World Individual Motorcycle Speedway Championship is held at London’s Wembley Stadium.
• 1939-WWII: the submarine HMS Oxley is mistakenly sunk by the submarine HMS Triton near Norway and becomes the Royal Navy’s first loss of a submarine in the war.
• 1939-WWII: Canada declares war on Germany, joining the Allies (Poland, France, United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia).
• 1942-WWII: the British Army carries out an amphibious landing on Madagascar to re-launch Allied operations in the Madagascar Campaign.
• 1943-WWII: in the course of Operation Achse, German troops began their occupation of Rome.
• 1960-Summer Olympics in Rome, Abebe Bikila becomes the first sub-Saharan African to win a gold medal, winning the marathon in bare feet.
• 1961-in the Italian Gran Prix, a crash causes the death of German Formula One driver Wolfgang von Trips and 13 spectators who are hit by his Ferrari.
• 1967-the people of Gibraltar vote to remain a British dependency rather than becoming part of Spain.
• 1974-Guinea-Bissau gains independence from Portugal.
• 1976-a British Airways Hawker Siddeley Trident and an Inex-Adria DC-9 collide near Zabreb, Yugoslavia, killing 176.
• 1977-Hamida Djandoubi, convicted of torture and murder, is the last person to be executed by guillotine in France.
• 2000-Operation Barras successfully frees 6 British soldiers held captive for over two weeks and contributes to the end of the Sierra Leone Civil War.
• 2001-the Michael Jackson 30th Anniversary Celebration concert was held September 7th and September 10th in NYC’s Madison Square Garden, hosted by Michael Jackson. I was actually there on 9/10/2001. The star-studded shows not only featured MJ and a reunion of The Jacksons, but also featured performances by Samuel L. Jackson (narrating), Usher, Mya, Whitney Houston, Marlon Brando (speech), Billy Gilman, Shaggy, Monica, Al Jarreau, Jill Scott, Deborah Cox, James Ingram, Gloria Estefan, Marc Anthony, Liza Minnelli, Destiny’s Child, Ray Charles, Cassandra Wilson, Elizabeth Taylor (introduction), NSYNC, Britney Spears, Chris Tucker, Dionne Warwick, Gloria Gaynor, 98 Degrees, Luther Vandross, Missy Elliott, Nelly Furtado, Aaron Carter, and Gladys Knight. Several of the stars were actually staying at the downtown Marriott Vista hotel, which was destroyed during the following day’s terrorist attacks.
• 2002-Switzerland, traditionally a neutral country, becomes a full member of the United Nations.
• 2007-former PM of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, returns to Pakistan after 7 years in exile, following a military coup in October 1999.
• 2008-the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, described as the biggest scientific experiment in history, is powered up in Geneva, Switzerland.
• 2017-Hurricane Irma makes landfall on Cudjoe Key, Florida as a Category 4, after causing catastrophic damage throughout the Caribbean. Irma will result in 134 deaths and $64.76 billion in damage.

Daily Weird Facts:

On any given workday, up to 50,000 employees worked in the World Trade Center twin towers before 9/11/01.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her. But once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game.”–Voltaire

Currency and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices closed at:

$74.34/barrel on 10/5
$47.66/barrel on 12/23
$48.63 on 01/07
$52.31/barrel on 01/16
$55.26/barrel on 2/3
$55.41/barrel on 2/26
$73.77/barrel on 4/29
$63.28/barrel on 5/17
$54.07/barrel on 6/18
$55.96/barrel on 7/24
$58.31/barrel on 9/10

The price of gasoline at my new West Palm Beach station has fallen again since Hurricane Dorian (although we have very strong laws against price gouging) to $2.29/gallon. Most of the other stations in the area are 30-60 cents more per gallon.

One USD versus the Yen was trading at (these are all Repo Commentary dates):

112.20 on 12/24
108.60 on 01/07
109.07 on 01/16
103.18 on 02/03
104.86 on 2/25
103.86 on 5/17
102.59 on 6/18
102.43 on 7/24
101.72 on 9/10

One Euro was trading on:

12/24 at $1.1426
01/07 at $1.1478
01/16 at $1.1396
02/03 at $1.2047
02/25 at $1.1955
05/17 at $1.1761
06/18 at $1.1825
07/24 at $1.1740
09/10 at $1.1623

One British Pound was trading on:

12/24 at $1.2655
01/07 at $1.2770
01/16 at $1.2880
02/03 at $1.3758
02/25 at $1.3728
05/17 at $1.3427
06/18 at $1.3157
07/24 at $1.3070
09/10 at $1.2959

One USD versus the CAD at:

1.3442 on 12/24
1.3297 on 01/07
1.3255 on 01/16
1.2492 on 2/03
1.2492 on 2/25
1.2800 on 5/17
1.2740 on 6/18
1.2480 on 7/24
1.2520 on 9/10

Gold closed on 7/24 at $1425.60/ounce. On 9/09, it closed at $1504.90/ounce.

Bitcoin was trading at (Repo Commentary Dates):

$8,185.21 on 7/25
$6,350 on 10/5
$3,774.97 on 12/24/18
$3,7774.97 on 01/07
$3,598.90 on 01/16
$3,421.10 on 02/06
$3,826.44 on 02/26
$8,100.00 on 05/16
$7,215.79 on 05/17
$9,088.59 on 06/18
$11,919.30 on 06/25
$9,790.37 on 07/24
$10,183.90 on 09/10

After rebounding dramatically since the beginning of the year, although certainly not to its $19,000 highs, Bitcoin had a reversal in the summer, but has advanced again recently.

Global Financial News:

Ahead of its IPO roadshow this week, WeWork is slashing its valuation by more than half, per Bloomberg. The money-losing startup, which leases office space, was valued at $47 billion earlier this year. They based their new analysis on other disappointing IPOs of losing-startups, like Uber. WeWork’s IPO would be the second biggest this year. My former AVM colleague, Garth Friesen, has written a macro update about the plunge in global long-term bond yields. Volcker rule revisions are drawing criticism from Paul Volcker himself. He told current Fed Chairman Jerome Powell that a proposal that would ease restrictions on banks’ stakes in private equity funds and hedge funds and that would narrow banks’ trading limits would weaken the rule’s core concepts. He believes the new rule would truly show the risk in the financial system and highlights conflicts of interest. The White House is defending its plan to revamp Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, by privatizing the organizations and taking them out from under government control, which has been implicit and then explicit after the Financial Crisis. Critics say that this plan would increase the cost of homebuying and would ignore the needs of low-income homeowners. JPMorgan Chase’s CEO Jamie Dimon says the bank is discussing a plan for zero interest rates (or lower). A group of large mortgage lenders and a long list of other organizations are asking the CFPB to eliminate the debt-to-income ratio required under the Qualified Mortgage rule. Some loans, like those of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, don’t need to meet the requirements, creating an uneven playing field. BOE Gov Mark Carney says the inversion of US and UK yield curves should not be read as a positive sign for the global economic outlook. He also says GBP volatility has hit “emerging-market levels”. During the Financial Crisis, major central banks cooperated to prevent a global depression. In today’s economy, however, the Fed, ECB, and BOJ might be forced to make decisions that hurt other jurisdictions, according to Reuters. EC President-elect Ursula von der Leyen has nominated Phil Hogan, an ally of Ireland’s PM, to become EU trade commissioner. Hogan has been a harsh critic of a no-deal Brexit and would likely be a key figure in negotiations between the UK and EU. European banks spent $77 billion for technology this year, outmatched by their US peers, who plan to spend $105 billion on tech. The US Treasury says that all cryptocurrencies must meet US rules that combat money laundering and financing of terrorism, including Facebook’s libra and other cryptocurrencies that may be based outside the US. Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEx) has made a surprise bid to purchase London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) of about $36.6 billion. One contingency is that LSEG much abandon it plan to purchase dat provider Refinitiv. Membes of the CFTC advisory committee are urging CME Group and LCH to resolve a 3-month difference in the date of adopting the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) discounting. Some participants disagree between the CME’s July 2020 date and LCH’s October 2020 date. GE looks to sell as much as $3 billion in shares of Baker Hughes, which would bring its stake in the oilfield-services company below 50%. Charles Schwab announced a plan to lay off about 600 workers. Vanguard ETF reportedly saw an outflow of $177 million due to Brexit concerns. The WSJ reports that the share of female board members in US companies reached 20% in Q2. A Federal Reserve study is suggesting that there is a rising liquidity risk in some mutual funds, due to significant increases in holdings of illiquid assets during the past 10 years and an increase in borrowings in response to rising redemptions.

US Market News:

The Dow Jones (global stocks as well), along with other stock indices, were enjoying record or near-record highs in late July 2019 (feeding off of earnings reports, US budget progress, and the Fed switching to easing monetary policy) but then corrected some 10% in August 2019, due to global political unrest and tariff/trade wars. Since August, equities have regained half (Dow) of what they lost.

The Dow Jones closed at (Repo Commentary Dates):

26,656.77 on 9/20/18
26,447.05 on 10/5/18
21,792.20 on 12/23/18
21,712.53 on 12/26/18
24,207.16 on 01/16/19
25,063.89 on 2/06/19
26,106.47 on 2/25/19
25,862.68 on 5/16/19
26,465.54 on 6/18/19
27,269.97 on 7/24/19
26,793.09 on 9/10/19 down 42 points as I write this

S&P 500 also gave up its all-time high on 9/20/18 of 2,930.66, then marched back up to a new high on 7/24/19, only to correct to nearly 2,800 three times in August, before rising again to near the highs, closing on:

10/5/18 at 2,885.58
12/26/18 at 2,467.70
01/07/19 at 2,549.69
01/16/19 at 2,616.10
02/06/19 at 2,706.53
02/25/19 at 2,799.34
05/16/19 at 2,876.32
06/18/19 at 2,917.75
07/24/19 at 3,019.56 new all-time high
09/10/19 at 2,969.04

Nasdaq too gave up its 8/28/18 high of 8,030.04, closing on:

10/5/18 at 7,788.45
12/26/18 at 6,554.36
01/07/19 at 6,823.47
01/16/19 at 7,034.70
02/06/19 at 7,263.87
02/25/19 at 7,561.87
05/16/19 at 7,898.05
06/18/19 at 7,953.68
07/24/19 at 8,321.50 new all-time high
09/10/19 at 8,043.58

US Treasury yields have been in free-fall since hitting highs in October 2018.

2 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 2.88%
12/18/18 at 2.65%
01/07/19 at 2.53%
01/16/19 at 2.55%
02/06/19 at 2.52%
02/22/19 at 2.48%
05/16/19 at 2.20%
06/18/19 at 1.86%
07/24/19 at 1.83%
09/09/19 at 1.58% Wow!

3 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 2.99%
12/18/18 at 2.64%
01/07/19 at 2.47% (inverted to 2years)
01/16/19 at 2.53%
02/06/19 at 2.50%
02/22/19 at 2.46%
05/16/19 at 2.15%
06/18/19 at 1.80%
07/24/19 at 1.79%
09/09/19 at 1.52%

5 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.07%
12/18/18 at 2.65%
01/07/19 at 2.49%
01/16/19 at 2.54%
02/06/19 at 2.51%
02/22/19 at 2.47%
05/16/19 at 2.18%
06/18/19 at 1.83%
07/24/19 at 1.82%
09/09/19 at 1.49%

7 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.18%
12/18/18 at 2.74%
01/07/19 at 2.60%
01/16/19 at 2.62%
02/06/19 at 2.59%
02/22/19 at 2.55%
05/16/19 at 2.28%
06/18/19 at 1.93%
07/24/19 at 1.93%
09/09/19 at 1.57%

10 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.23%
12/18/18 at 2.82%
01/07/19 at 2.70%
01/16/19 at 2.73%
02/06/19 at 2.70%
02/22/19 at 2.65%
05/16/19 at 2.40%
06/18/19 at 2.06%
07/24/19 at 2.05%
09/09/19 at 1.83%

30 YEAR BONDS closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.40%
12/18/18 at 3.07%
01/07/19 at 2.99%
01/16/19 at 3.07%
02/06/19 at 3.03%
02/22/19 at 3.02%
05/16/19 at 2.84%
06/18/19 at 2.55%
07/24/19 at 2.58%
09/10/19 at 2.11%

US Treasury yields have virtually disappeared in the last 2 months and market participants are expecting another 25bp rate cut at the 9/18 FOMC meeting. Timing is perfect for record issuance by the US Treasury, so it will pay less interest on its debt, and as it’s mulling over issuing much longer maturities at these cycle low interest rates. But, there is a ‘Catch-22’: the rates are low, so great for issuance and great for Treasury; but who will buy the securities if they have too low a yield versus other investments?

Housing News:

Homebuyer statistics have changed drastically in 20 years. White Americans made up 66% of first-time homebuyers in 2017, a 5% drop since 1997, according to Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. Meanwhile, homebuyers identifying themselves as Asian and others have increased from 5% to 11%, in the same time period, the largest gain of any groups. The proportion of married buyers dropped the most, from 61% in 1997 to 50% in 2017.

Repo News:

EquiLend/MarketAccess is touting their SFTR solution NGT with a centralized portal for UTIs.

I hear there may be some upcoming consolidation in the financial industry conference space, as some firms are trimming sponsorship and there are a lot of conferences. Meanwhile, there has been considerable movement in the all-to-all, peer-to-peer, CCP, electronic platform space for Repo & Securities Lending. One firm has been going gangbusters on Total Return Swaps for their electronic platform, another has had to lay of some people, another electronic platform shut down its London effort and trimmed US marketing, Sponsored Repo is reportedly running into a constraint of now some $100 billion in CCLF obligation, while one electronic platform is rumored to be having issues, and another one has suddenly popped up for collateralized loans. Meanwhile, peer-to-peer between the insurance companies and money funds is increasing, and peer-to-peer within the pension fund peer group and within the hedge fund peer group may be gaining some traction. Month-end repo rates have been hairy lately, as has liquidity, and unusual setting of SOFR rates to the dealer offer-side of triparty repo. It makes sense that any solution that can net or reduce or eliminate use of capital and balance sheet for broker/dealers would be of greater importance now, with yields at multi-year lows and any savings a higher percentage of those nominal yields. On the same token, any solution that can help buyside save any of the bid/offer spread being captured by broker/dealers, which also is a higher percentage of the current low nominal yields, also increases in importance in this environment. As I look at job opportunities, I am exploring funding for broker/dealers, funding for asset managers, electronic platforms, newer solutions, CCPs, and maybe even consulting for multiple solutions. So far, I am ruling out being an insurance agent or PWM rep, but ya never know!

I still see the Repo and Securities Lending market as having changed in many permanent ways. We traditionally had a credit intermediator, the broker/dealers (originally just the primary broker/dealers) and later prime brokers, who were the pipeline through their respective repo matched books for ALL collateral providers to trade with cash providers, without the two sides ever knowing about each other or facing each other. That lack of knowledge of the other side of the dealers’ repo matched book came at a couple of costs, first, the bid/offer spread that went to the dealers, which has been volatile but certainly widened since the Financial Crisis, and second, the defaults of the Financial Crisis, which not only subjected clients to dealer defaults and wider spreads, but in many cases directly impacted clients by making them suddenly the outright traders of repo collateral. Some of that collateral, on top of it, was very illiquid. Not knowing who the other clients were on the other side of the dealers’ repo matched book, and who could potentially bring down those intermediary dealers was costly for many clients. Clearly, with that pipeline of is intermediation becoming severely crimped by post-Financial Crisis regulatory reforms, consolidation and bankruptcies, and the resulting drop of about 60% in balance sheets (which has recovered partially with new entrants to the market and international banks’ increases due to regulatory arbitrage) being used for broker/dealer respective repo matched books, new pathways/pipelines needed to be explored for cash provider and collateral provider clients. My former baby, AVM’s Direct Repo™, was the first of one of such pathways, over 10 years ago. Since then, many other liquidity pathways to these markets have been created, including: the Federal Reserve’s RRP program with cash providers, peer-to-peer financing as reported on Treasury OFR’s website between MMFs and Insurance Companies, As Agented repo through seclending agents and some prime brokers to buyside clients, direct lending from beneficial owners to hedge funds who are short via their agents, indemnified As Agent repo, buyside to buyside Triparty Repo through two international clearing organizations of their custodial clients, electronic all-to-all repo on a few electronic trading platforms like (Elixium, BNY DBVX, State Street’s Cash Cross), FICC’s sponsored repo and cleared repo products for certain sectors of the buyside into that CCP, dealer to dealer and some clients electronic trading platforms (like GLMX, HQLA, and Tradeweb), other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (particularly in Europe, like Eurex, LCH, OCC, CME, etc.), total return swaps platforms (like WeMatch.com), and collateralized loan exchanges like AFX/CBOE. There have still been other firms that have created some king of product that mimics a repo, but yet doesn’t show up on dealers’ balance sheets (so helps them), and/or provides better credit counterparties (so helps clients), and can take many forms. I believe this overall evolution will continue and eventually we will see all of these pathways used in some part, including the traditional pathway (to probably a lesser than historical degree) through the broker/dealers and prime brokers. Some of that balance sheet has returned, as I mentioned above, but maybe for only select ‘platinum’ clients and may come at a higher bid/offer spread or in specific, more profitable products/securities, as other market observers/experts have said.

Securities Finance Industry Conferences:
 

• Deutsche Borse/Clearstream held its annual conference this week in Luxembourg, which I attended last year.
• IMN 25th Beneficial Owners International Securities Finance and Collateral Management Conference was held in Fort Lauderdale, FL on 2/5-2/6. I was chosen as the Chairperson.
• Finadium held a new conference on the Business of Collateral Trading in Frankfurt, Germany on 2/21.
• IMN held its annual Fixed Income Investor Network in Las Vegas on 2/24.
• iMoneyNet held its annual MMExpo in Middleburg, VA 3/4-3/6.
• PASLA/RMA held its 16th annual Conference on Asian Securities Lending in Sydney, Australia 3/5-3/7.
• GIOA held its 15th annual conference in Las Vegas 3/20-3/22.
• Crane Data held its annual Bond Fund Symposium in Philadelphia on 3/25-3/26.
• Finadium held its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference in NYC on 5/2-5/3.
• GFOA held its 113th annual conference in Los Angeles on 5/19-5/22.
• Securities Lending Times held its annual Securities Finance Technology Symposium in London on 5/9.
• IMN held its annual Global ABS conference in Barcelona, Spain on 6/11-6/13.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income Leaders USA Summit in Philadelphia, PA on 6/18-6/20.
• ISLA held its Securities Finance and Collateral Management conference in Madrid this week.
• Crane Data held its annual Money Fund Symposium on 6/24-6/26 in Boston.
• Hedge Fund Association held its Rooftop Social in NYC on 6/27.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income & FX Leader Summit in Singapore on 9/17-9/19.
• IHS Markit in conjunction with Opal Group will hold a Securities Finance Forum in NYC on 9/17.
• IMN will hold its annual ABS East conference in Miami Beach, FL on 9/22-9/24.
• IMN will hold its annual European Securities Finance conference in London on 9/25-9/26.
• Crane Data will hold its annual European Money Fund Symposium in Dublin, Ireland on 9/23-24.
• Finadium will hold its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference Europe in London on 9/24.
• National Association of State Treasurers will hold its annual conference in Naples, FL on 10/6-10/9.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its Fixed Income Leaders conference in Barcelona on 10/7-10/9.
• RMA will hold its 37th annual Conference on Securities Finance and Collateral Management in Boca Raton, FL on October 14-17, as they just announced.
• American Financial Professionals (AFP) will hold its annual conference in Boston, MA on 10/20-10/23.
• Finadium will hold its Rates & Repo conference in New York on 11/4
• Risk.net will hold its 25th annual Risk USA conference in NYC on November 5-6.
• SIFMA will hold its annual Meeting in Washington, DC on 11/18-11/20.

Federal Reserve News:

The Fed Funds rate, which is still the target rate of Federal Reserve monetary policy and changes to which are made by and announced by the FOMC at regularly scheduled meetings, is currently set at 2.25%, after the FOMC lowered it on 7/31/19. However, the Effective Fed Funds Rate (EFFR), as reported by the NY Fed on its website, has drifted lower to 2.13% on 9/09/19, averaging about 12bp below the actual target rate. Now, Fed Funds don’t TRADE much like they used to, just between some regional banks and GSEs.

The Overnight Bank Funding Rate (OBFR), also published by the NY Fed to capture the volume-weighted median of overnight federal funds transactions, Eurodollar transactions, and the domestic deposits reported by banks. That rate on 9/09/19 was 2.11% and has been very constant throughout this month.

The Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) is supposed to be a broad measure of the cost of borrowing cash overnight collateralized by US Treasury securities. It is also reported by the NY Fed on its website. It has been controversial and has been considered as a possibly replacement for LIBOR. SOFR includes trades in the Broad General Collateral Rate of Repo plus bilateral Treasury Repo transactions cleared through the DVP services at CCP FICC, ostensibly filtering out issues trading Special. However, critics (and I am one) say that it only picks up the Offered Side of Repo (not a median), that it only picks up the small amount of DVP transactions cleared at FICC and Triparty Repo done at Bank of NY, ignoring the growing amount of bilateral (non-Triparty) repo being done peer-to-peer, dealer-to-dealer, and client-to-dealer, outside of FICC. It is a good representation of where Money Funds (except for a few savvy ones who trade peer-to-peer) are paid on their cash versus US Treasuries in Repo each day by broker/dealers. It almost completely ignores other sectors, particularly buyside clients with collateral. That all being said, the current SOFR reported by the Fed for 09/09/19 was 2.12%.

The next FOMC meetings are: 9/18/19, 10/30/19, 12/11/19, 1/29/20.

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (mostly banks, GSEs, and MMFs) is used as a tool by the Federal Reserve, along with its Fed Funds target-setting monetary policy, and OER for depository institutions, to help control short-term interest rates. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight. Remember when RRP was trading at year-end for $465 billion? Well, on 5/15/19, there was only $20 million in bids submitted. MMF cash and GSE cash has moved out of the Fed’s RRP and into the Repo market. So, if RRP is not extinct, it is certainly now dormant, occasionally coming out of hibernation for year-ends and quarter-ends, when liquidity becomes very strange.

In December, at the FOMC meeting, the Federal Reserve signaled that it would raise the benchmark Fed Funds rate to 2.50% at the December FOMC meeting, 3.00% in 2019, and 3.50% in 2020. If you are keeping score, the Federal Reserve raised the Fed Funds target rate on these dates so far:

12/15/15 to 0.50%
12/14/16 to 0.75%
3/5/17 to 1.00%
6/14/17 to 1.25%
12/13/17 to 1.50%
3/21/18 to 1.75%
6/13/18 to 2.00%
9/26/18 to 2.25%
12/13/18 to 2.50%

But, then the Federal Reserve paused. Suddenly, on 7/31/19, the Fed eased the Fed Funds target rate to 2.25%, and is likely to cut another 0.25% to 2.00% on 9/18/19.

Quantitative Easing was ‘tapered off’ in 2013. The Fed still had $4 trillion of debt in 2017 on its books from that QE. In October 2017, it began allowing those holdings to gradually decline. For reference, the Fed Funds target rate was 5.25% before the Fed cut of 9/18/2007, at or near the beginning of the Financial Crisis.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell spoke in Zurich on Friday 9/6 and said that the most likely case is for continued moderate growth in the US and the rest of the world. But, the Fed is still monitoring “significant risks”. He said that the US labor market strength continues, despite the soft Nonfarm Payrolls report. He said the Fed will act as needed to “sustain expansion”. The market has priced in about a 90% chance of a 25bp rate cut at this month’s FOMC meeting. Thanks to my former MS colleague, Harvey Flax of ICE, for the synapsis.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

Globally (US Northwest, Japan, Iran, Venezuela, China, Greece, Italy, Armenia, etc.) the Earth’s crust has been very active. Thses are just the earthquakes over the last 3 days! Latest strong earthquakes (4.5 magnitude and above):

9/10 4.7 11km W of Tashir, Armenia
9/10 4.9 52km SSW of Puerto El Triunfo, El Salvador
9/10 4.8 Northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge
9/10 5.0 East of the South Sandwich Islands
9/10 5.6 23km SE of Bobon, Philippines
9/10 4.6 45km E of Austin, Nevada
9/09 5.4 161km ESE of Amatignak Island, Alaska
9/09 4.6 Northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge
9/09 5.5 18km WSW of Araya, Venezuela
9/09 4.9 1km NE of Puerto Galera, Philippines
9/09 5.5 SE of Easter Island
9/09 5.2 88km W of Isangel, Vanuatu
9/09 4.9 East of Bhadarwah, India
9/09 4.7 24km WNW of Itbayat, Philippines
9/09 5.3 45km NE of Amatignak Island, Alaska
9/09 4.5 42km WSW of Cetraro, Italy
9/09 4.8 66km SE of Lata, Solomon Islands
9/09 4.9 293km ESE of Iwo Jima, Japan
9/09 4.5 94km S of Hachijo-jima, Japan
9/08 4.6 Reykjanes Ridge
9/08 4.5 22km WNW of Megalopolis, Greece
9/08 5.1 56km WSW of Panguna, Papua New Guinea
9/08 5.0 15km ENE of Suyan, Philippines
9/08 4.6 62km W of Queshm, Iran
9/08 4.6 200km E of Namie, Japan
9/08 4.5 75km NW of Yakutat, Alaska
9/08 5.2 Indian Ocean Triple Junction
9/08 4.9 7km SSW of Yanling, China
9/08 4.8 43km ENE of Bhadarwah, India
9/07 5.1 1km S of Neijiang, China
9/07 4.7 278km NW of Longyearbyen, Svabard and Jan Meyen
9/07 4.5 52km ENE of Chazuta, Peru
9/07 5.3 11km NW of Briston Island, South Sandwich Islands
9/07 4.6 177km WNW of Zambezi, Zambia
9/07 4.5 S of the Fiji Islands
9/07 4.7 99km NNE of Chichi-shima, Japan
9/07 5.1 79km ENE of Mutsu, Japan
9/07 5.3 Southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge
9/07 4.7 Kuril Islands

Weather:

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began June 1st and ends November 30th. For 2018, Colorado State University experts had predicted an above average season of 14 named Tropical Storms, of which 7 would become Hurricanes. Both are above the averages of 12 and 6, respectively. But, there were 15 named Tropical Storms, of which 8 were hurricanes, and 2 of them major. So, they were wrong, but this time, not in a good way.

Hurricane officials are warning Floridians to prepare in advance of the upcoming storm season. There are several national meteorological services and scientific agencies that forecast how many named storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes (above Category 3). TSR, CSU, and The Weather Company were similar numbers, while NCU was higher. CSU has been the most used and they forecast for 2019 a near-average season of 13 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes.

The Hurricane names for the 2019 North Atlantic season are:

Andrea-x
Barry-x
Chantal-x
Dorian-x
Erin-x
Fernand-x
Gabrielle-x
Humberto
Imelda
Jerry
Karen
Lorenzo
Melissa
Nestor
Olga
Pablo
Rebekah
Sebastian
Tanya
Van
Wendy

The Pacific Hurricane Season started 5/1/18 and ends 11/1/18.

Hurricane Dorian came into the Bahamas, particularly the Abacos (where I visited last year), as a monster Category-5 hurricane, devastating the region. To make matters worse, the storm stalled over the Bahamas for days, flooding the region with some 30 inches of rain. It wiped out most of the Abacos, tearing off every roof, destroying buildings, leveling the airport and wharfs. At least 50 people are currently known to be dead, but that number is expected to increase dramatically. The Bahamas government now lists 2500 people missing. Unfortunately, the government there had no evacuation plan in place and has been ineffective with relief efforts. So, luckily other countries have committed resources and money, particularly through charity organizations and private citizens lending boats and aircraft to deliver supplies. The cruise line here out of the Port of Palm Beach has been bringing supplies TO the Bahamas and bringing BACK thousands of Bahamian refugees. Desperation is, however, mounting in the Bahamas, as shelters are turning some evacuees away. Everyone here in Florida is praying for their neighbors in the Bahamas and starting their own relief efforts. The Bahamas is a short flight from Florida and just a couple hours’ boat ride. So, it is a popular destination for Floridians. For the third year in a row, Florida dodged a major Category-5 Hurricane, this time by about 30 miles and last year by about 10 miles. Dorian was right off the coast of West Palm Beach, where I live. Dorian eventually made its way up eyeing the Florida coast and hitting the Outer Banks of the Carolinas, where it unleashed flooding and a 7-foot storm surge. Over 800,000 people were ordered to evacuate South Carolina, ahead of the storm. It has continued on to Nova Scotia. We have 4 more storms in the Atlantic to be watching over the next 6-18 days. NOAA sees Gabriella as an Extratropical Cyclone with 50mph winds, so no longer worried about.

There is currently no tropical cyclone activity expected during the next 48 hours in the Atlantic, Eastern North Pacific, and the Central North Pacific.

As for the weather, the daily deluge of record-setting temperatures and horrific afternoon thunderstorms here in Florida has finally stopped after about 3 weeks. After last week’s high temperatures and heat index of 105-110 degrees, we have cooled off 5-10 degrees and become less rainy. I would say drier, but humidity has remained 70-90%, so I can’t say drier. Meanwhile, a strong cold front is bringing cooler air from Canada and combining it with Monsoon moisture to impact the US. There will be significant damaging winds, very large hail, isolated tornadoes, and heavy rain in the Midwest. Flash flooding will hit the Southwest and snow could hit areas above 8,000 feet in the North and Central Rockies. Meanwhile, the heat from the South will move into the Midwest and Northeast towards the weekend, bringing temperatures back up from the 50s and 60s to 80s and 90s.

Sports News:

MLB:

The MLB regular season began 3/28 this year and will end sometime in November, and 8-month long season, about double the seasons of the other 3 major sports. the 2018 World Series Champion Red Sox did not start well and continue not to do particularly well, with a slim chance at the Wild Card. Their rival Yankees are burning up the field and the standings this year, just the way the Red Sox did last year. David Ortiz, having recovered from gunshots and 3 surgeries, threw out the first pitch in Monday’s game between the Red Sox and Yankees and thanked the Fenway fans. It didn’t help, as the Red Sox lost again. On Monday, the Red Sox fired their highly touted President Dave Dombrowski, who couldn’t keep the team on the path to the playoffs, after orchestrating some trades and inheriting a young talented roster that brought them the World Championship in 2018. Joe Maddon’s job may be on the line with the Cubs’ run for the Division or the Wild Card. Yankees Mike Tauchman is likely out for season with a calf injury. The Astros scored 21 runs in a blowout win over the Mariners. Overlooked was that Astros ace Gerrit Cole became the second pitcher ever to strike out 14+ (he struck out 15 Mariners) in three straight starts. Cubs IF Addison Russell was hit by a pitch in the head and had to leave the game.

With about 17 games left in the season, let’s take a look at the standings and Wild Card races: AL East-Yankees are solidly in first place, 9 games ahead of the Rays and 18 ½ games ahead of the Red Sox. The Orioles are no longer the worst team in baseball though, although 48 games behind the Yankees and 46-97. AL Central-Twins are still clinging to first place, 5 games ahead of the Indians, but everyone else has fallen off the charts. The Tigers now have the worst MLB record at 42-100. AL West-Astros are in first place, 10 ½ games ahead of the A’s. NL East-the surprising Braves (without the big splashes their rivals made in free agency) are in first place, 9 1/2 games ahead of the Nationals. NL Central-Cardinals are in first place, but tenuously 4 games ahead of the Cubs and 6 games ahead of the Brewers. NL West-Dodgers are in first place by a mile, 17 ½ games ahead of Giants and 15 ½ games ahead of Diamondbacks. Except for the NL Central, the focus will be on the Wild Card races. In the AL, it’s between the Rays, A’s, and Indians (in that order) for the 2 spots. In the NL, it’s between the Nationals, Cubs, Brewers, D-Backs, Phillies, and Mets (in that order) for the 2 spots.

The MLB announced the class of the six 2019 inductees into the Hall of Fame and they are: Harold Baines, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez (finally), Mike Mussina, Mariano Rivera, and Lee Smith. The ceremony will be on 7/21 in Cooperstown, NY. Baines and Smith were elected to the Hall of Fame by the Today’s Game Era Committee. Baines, an ESPN analyst, will go in as a White Sox, Halladay will go in without a logo, Martinez will go in as a Mariner (kind of insuring that his fellow DH, David Ortiz, will make it too), Mussina will go in without a logo (I’m surprised), Rivera (the greatest reliever of all-time) will go in as a Yankee, and Smith (one of the greatest relievers of all-time) will go in as a Cub.

Golf:

The FedEx Cup finally ended with Rory McIlroy winning the $15 million check. The PGA Tour took a 15-day break after that, but is ready to resume the Fall season, with 11 tournaments. World No.10 Bryson DeChambeau headlines the field this week in the Fall season of the PGA Tour with Greenbrier. A back injury is forcing Stacy Lewis to withdraw from the Solheim Cup. The European Open has some weird rules incidents. It would be Arnold Palmer’s 90th birthday today. Tiger Woods had arthroscopic surgery on that knee, which surprised everyone. He will have had two months off before flying to Japan to play in the inaugural Zozo Championship. But, he will be busy on 11/4 picking the four captain’s picks for the US Presidents Cup, to be held at Royal Melbourne. He could name himself and make history as a playing captain. The PGA Tour is set to implement a new club-testing program which will now test drivers pulled directly from players’ bags.

NFL:

The 99th NFL regular season ended with the New England Patriots beating the Los Angeles Rams in a defensive battle 13-3 in the Super Bowl. The 100th NFL season began Thursday night, with another defensive battle between the longtime rivals Packers and Bears, with the Packers upsetting the Bears, who were picked by 6, 10-3. At least the new Bears placekicker made his Field Goal attempt (unlike his predecessor who famously donked both uprights and the crossbar in 3 attempts in the same playoff game last year. It was QB Tom Brady’s 6th Super Bowl victory. NFL training camps have opened for the 100th NFL season. So, Antonio Brown, who left the Steelers for free agency and was gobbled up by the Raiders, refused to play with the new more protective helmet. Then he got into an altercation with the GM, after getting fined. Then, they had enough and cut him. Within minutes, the Patriots, who were already fully up on star wide receivers, snatched him up with a 1year/$15 million contract. Well, on Tuesday he practiced with the Pats for the first time and then was accused of a rape two years ago. Could spell more trouble for AB.

Week 1 regular season results (winner highlighted in yellow and line prior to gametime):

Thursday
Green Bay Packers 10 @ Chicago Bears 3, Bears were favored by 3, but lost their 6th out of last 7 games versus their ultimate rivals.

Sunday
LA Rams 30 @ Carolina Panthers 27, Rams favored by 3, Super Bowl runner-up Rams eked out the victory over a game Panthers, just as expected.

Tennessee Titans 43 @ Cleveland Browns 13, much hyped Browns favored by 6, which was a trap!

Kansas City Chiefs 40 @ Jacksonville Jaguars 26, Chiefs favored by 4 and blew out the Jags. It was a very costly game for both teams, as new super QB Nick Foles of Jags suffered a broken clavicle on his throwing arm as he threw his first TD as a Jag. He may come back during the season, after surgery Monday. On the other side of the ball, the dominating chiefs had their star receiver Tyreek Hill taken to the hospital for an emergency, as he suffered a rare “sternoclavicular dislocation”, which I read as similar to Foles’ broken clavicle, but broken off of the sternum instead of in the middle. He could come back during the season.

Baltimore Ravens 59 @ Miami Dolphins 10, Ravens favored by 7, made a mockery of the Dolphins with their new QB. The Dolphins don’t get a break either, as they face the Patriots in Week 2.

Atlanta Falcons 12 @ Minnesota Vikings 28, Vikings favored by 4 because of home field advantage, so it was supposed to be close, but wasn’t.

Buffalo Bills 17 @ NY Jets 16, Jets favored by 3 with Le’Veon Bell and home field, but the Jets snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

Washington Redskins 27 @ Philadelphia Eagles 32, Eagles favored by 10, were down 17 points at halftime, but rallied to win.

Indianapolis Colts 24 @ LA Chargers 30, Chargers favored by 7, as Colts QB Luck just retired, but the Colts made it go to OT and messed up the Line.

Cincinnati Bengals 20 @ Seattle Seahawks 21, Seahawks favored by 9, became another expected blowout that was really close in the end.
Detroit Lions 27 @ Arizona Cardinals 27, Lions by 2.5, one that was supposed to be close and didn’t disappoint (except maybe Lions’ fans), ending in a tie in OT.

NY Giants 17 @ Dallas Cowboys 35, Cowboys favored by 7, wasn’t even close.

San Francisco 49ers 31 @ Tampa Bay Bucs 17, even odds, the one game that was supposed to be real close and it was a blowout.

Pittsburgh Steelers 3 @ New England Patriots 33, SB champs favored by 6 as Steelers lost Antonio Brown (who ironically then wound up on Pats) and Le’Veon Bell to free agency. Most people thought this would be close and could be an upset. Most people were wrong.

Monday
Houston Texans 28 @ New Orleans Saints 30 Saints favored by 7, but turned out to be a great battle, with the Saints kicking a 58-yard field goal at the end to win for an exciting finish.

Denver Broncos 16 @ Oakland Raiders 24, even odds, but right from the start, the Raiders out-muscled the Broncos at won fairly easily.

The AAF, which was co-founded by Charlie Ebersol, and supported by the NFL as a developmental league, was folded by the NFL just 6 games into the Spring season this year. It is not to be confused with the XFL, which was launched 17 years ago, by Dick Ebersol of NBC, Charlie’s father. The XFL will re-launch in 2020.

Let’s look at the new NFL Hall of Fame class, which includes Tony Gonzalez, Ed Reed, Kevin Mawae, Champ Bailey, Johnny Robinson, Pat Bowlen, Gil Brandt, and Ty Law.
In case you are already looking forward to Super Bowl LIV, which will be held here in Miami, tickets and TD club package start at $5000 per person. Other packages start at $10,000 per person. So, much for me driving down there to see who the Patriots play…

NCAA Football:

College football has finally returned! In fact, we have now played 2 weeks of the 15-week regular season. It was really weird starting out without Alabama on top of the AP Top 25 poll, where they perennially start at No.1. But, since Clemson won the BCS National Championship last year, they were No.1 to start the season. Some serious excitement already, as No.7 Michigan nearly lost in their own house to unranked Army and needed 2 OTs and referee help to finally win 24-21. Most of the rest of the Big 10 was solid and won some blowout games in Week 2. In fact, most ranked teams had blowouts in Week 2: No.19 Iowa beat Rutgers 30-0, No.21 Maryland beat Syracuse in a school record 63-20, No.14 Wisconsin beat Central Michigan 61-0, No.3 Georgia beat Murray State 63-17, No.11 Utah beat Northern Ilinois 35-17, No.6 Ohio State beat Cincinnati 42-0, No.2 Alabama beat NM State 62-10, No.18 Michigan State beat up Western Michigan 61-17, No.17 UCF beat up on poor FAU 48-14, Oklahoma beat up South Dakota 70-14, No.13 Penn State beat Buffalo 45-13, and No.24 USC beat Stanford 45-20. Exceptions were: No.22 Boise State barely beat Marshall 14-7, No.1 Clemson beat No.16 Texas A&M 24-10, No.8 Auburn had some trouble with Tulane 24-6, No.4 LSU won a wild game against No.12 Texas 45-38. No.23 Washington was upset by California 20-19.

The current AP Top 25 Poll:
1. Clemson
2. Alabama
3. Georgia
4. LSU
5. Oklahoma
6. Ohio State
7. Notre Dame
8. Auburn
9. Florida
10. Michigan
11. Utah
12. Texas
13. Penn State
14. Wisconsin
15. Oregon
16. Texas A&M
17. UCF
18. Michigan State
19. Iowa
20. Washington State
21. Maryland
22. Boise State
23. Washington
24. USC
25. Virginia

NHL:

The puck dropped on the regular season, for some of the 31 teams, on 10/3. It ended in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals on 6/12, when the St. Louis Blues beat my Bruins 4-3 in the Finals. The Blues were in last place in their division in January and wound up winning it all. The NHL is finishing up free agency signings. Blue Jackets signed Zach Werenski to a 3year/$15 million deal. Capitals named Brooks Orpik to Player Development Department. Of the top 50 unrestricted free agents, the ones left are: No.17 Patrick Marleau (Maple Leafs), No.26 Dion Phaneuf (Kings), No.41 Thomas Vanek (Red Wings), No.48 Jason Pominville (Sabres). Of the top 20 restricted free agents, the one available are: No.1 Mitch Marner (Maple Leafs), No.3 Mikko Rantanen (Avalanche), No.5 Brayden Point (Lightning), No.6 Patrik Laine (Jets), No.7 Kyle Connor (Jets), No.8 Brock Boeser (Canucks), No.10 Mathew Tkachuk (Flames), No.14 Charlie McAvoy (Bruins), No.16 Ivan Provorov (Flyers), No.19 Travis Konecny (Flyers).

NBA:

The NBA season officially began on 10/3 as well. It officially ended with the underdogs, the Toronto Raptors ousting the favorite Golden State Warriors in six games. Michael Jordan pledged $1 million to Hurricane Dorian relief in Bahamas. The Grizzlies refused to buy out Andre Iguodala’s contract and want him back at camp. NBA is planning to ban ‘ninja-style’ headbands next season. 76ers’ Mike Scott got into a fight with Eagles fans. Kawhi Leonard’s sister has been charged with rober and death of an elderly woman. A Duke investigation found no evidence that Zion Williamson was paid by Nike during his short college tenure. Nike will open a LeBron James building on Portland campus.

Olympics:

The hype for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo has officially begun. You may have already heard that there will be some new sports added and some sports returning. Many USA Olympic stars will be returning, including the World Cup Champion USA Women’s soccer team. The team will include their goalie, who is planning on putting off her debut in the NFL, as a placekicker, breaking the sex barrier in the NFL, until after the Olympics.

Tennis:

At Wimbledon, in July, Serena Williams was upset by Simona Halep in the Final. Serena had another opportunity to win that elusive record-breaking 24th Grand Slam title, in the US Open. However, she was totally dominated by Bianca Andreescu in 2 sets in the Final (although she had a magnificent 5 game rally in the second set that fell short). On the Men’s side, Rafael Nadal won his 19th Grand Slam title. He is now just one behind Roger Federer, who holds the all-time Men’s record for most Grand Slam titles. Federer also holds the record for most Grand Slam Finals at 31, but Nadal is now at 27. Nadal is just the 5th man in the Open Era to win 4 or more US Opens. Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer each won 5 and John McEnroe won 4. Okay, I had to really dig up these last facts: he’s now 209-1 at Grand Slams after he wins the first 2 sets, it was the longest Grand Slam Final he ever won at 4:51 against Medvedev, He’s now won 27 of his last 28 matches, and he’s spending his 750th straight week in the Top 10 (currently No.2 and closing on Djokovic). Did you know that the top 3 (Djokovic, Nadal, Federer) have won 51 of the last 59 Grand Slams?

Horse Racing:

Los Angeles could soon be the first major city to ban horse racing. The Breeders Cup will be at Santa Anita Park 11/1 and 11/2.

Racing:

Last year’s champion, his first, for the NASCAR Cup Series was Joey Logano, who beat Martin Truex Jr. in the final 15 laps of the final race at Homestead. Truex Jr. won the crown in 2017. The 2019 regular season has just completed and the Playoffs begin this week. Here is the complete schedule of races for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup in 2019 and the results:

2/17 Daytona 500, won by Denny Hamlin
2/24 Atlanta, QuickTrip 500, won by Brad Keselowski
3/3 Las Vegas-Joey Logano
3/10 ISM Raceway-Kyle Busch
3/17 Auto Club-Kyle Busch
3/24 Martinsville-Brad Keselowski
3/31 Texas-Denny Hamlin
4/7 Bristol-Kyle Busch
4/13 Richmond-Martin Truex Jr.
4/28 Talladega-Chase Elliott
5/5 Dover-won by Martin Truex Jr.
5/11 Kansas-won by Brad Keselowski
5/18 All-Star Open Charlotte-won by Austin Dillon
5/26 Charlotte, Coca-Cola 600-won by Martin Truex Jr.
6/2 Pocono, Pocono 400-won by Kyle Busch
6/9 Michigan, Firekeepers Casino 400-won by Joey Logano
6/23 Sonoma, Save Mart 350-won by Martin Truex Jr.
6/30 Chicago, Camping World 400-won by Alex Bowman
7/7 Daytona, Coke Zero 400-won by Austin Haley
7/13 Kentucky, Quaker State 400-won by Kurt Busch
7/21 New Hampshire, Foxwoods Resort Casino 301-won by Kevin Harvick
7/28 Pocono, Gander RV 400-Denny Hamlin
8/4 Watkins Glen, GoBowling at The Glen-Chase Elliott
8/11 Michigan, Consumers Energy 400-Kevin Harvick
8/17 Bristol, Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race-Denny Hamlin
9/1 Darlington, Bojangles’ Southern 500-Erik Jones
9/8 Indianapolis, Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard-Kevin Harvick
9/15 Las Vegas playoff-South Point 400
9/21 Richmond playoff
9/29 Charlotte playoff
10/6 Dover playoff
10/13 Talladega playoff
10/20 Kansas playoff
10/27 Martinsville playoff
11/3 Texas playoff
11/10 ISM Raceway playoff
11/17 Miami-Homestead final playoff

Formula One began with F1 Car Launch Dates for the various teams from 2/12 through 2/15 for Renault, Racing Point, McLaren, and Ferrari. That was followed by Pre-Season Testing schedule 2/18-2/21 and 2/26-3/1, both in Catalunya, Spain. Here is the 2019 Formula One 21 Race calendar and results (it might be easier to just say which races were not won by Lewis Hamilton):

3/17 Australia Grand Prix in Melbourne-won by V. Bottas
3/31 Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir-won by Lewis Hamilton
4/14 China Grand Prix in Shanghai (this will be the 1000th Grand Prix)-won by Lewis Hamilton
4/28 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku-won by V. Bottas
5/12 Spain Grand Prix in Barcelona-won by Lewis Hamilton
5/26 Monaco Grand Prix in Monaco-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/9 Canada Grand Prix in Montreal-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/23 France Grand Prix in Le Castellet-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/30 Austria Grand Prix in Spielberg-won by Max Verstappen
7/14 Great Britain Grand Prix in Silverstone-won by Lewis Hamilton
7/28 Germany Grand Prix in Hockenheim-won by Max Verstappen
8/4 Hungary Grand Prix in Budapest-Lewis Hamilton
9/1 Belgium Grand Prix in Spa-Charles Leclerc
9/8 Italy Grand Prix in Monza-Charles Leclerc
9/22 Singapore Grand Prix in Singapore
9/29 Russia Grand Prix in Sochi
10/13 Japan Grand Prix in Suzuka
10/27 Mexico Grand Prix in Mexico City
11/3 USA Grand Prix in Austin, TX
11/17 Brazil Grand Prix in Sao Paulo
12/1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Yas Island

Here is the IndyCar Racing circuit and its 2019 calendar and results (Indy cars are generally considered faster than F1 car along straight lines, mostly because their races are on oval tracks, while F1 tracks are more intricate, requiring better brakes and more aerodynamic grip than Indy cars). There is only one race left this season:

3/10 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg-Josef Newgarden
3/24 Circuit of the Americas-Colton Herta
4/7 Grand Prix of Alabama-Takuma Sato
4/14 Grand Prix at Long Beach-Alexander Rossi
5/11 Grand Prix of Indianapolis-Simon Pagenaud
5/26 Indianapolis 500-Simon Pagenaud
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 1-Josef Newgarden
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 2-Scott Dixon
6/8 Texas Grand Prix-Josef Newgarden
6/23 Road America-Alexander Rossi
7/14 Honda Indy Toronto-Simon Pagenaud
7/20 Iowa 300-Josef Newgarden
7/28 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio-Scott Dixon
8/18 Pocono Grand Prix-Will Power (I love that name!)
8/24 Gateway Grand Prix-Takuma Sato
9/1 Grand Prix of Portland-Will Power (that’s all it takes)
9/22 Grand Prix at Laguna Seca

Travel News:

Massachusetts State Police are searching for a couple captured on toll cameras on the Mass Turnpike near Boston, as they were both asleep in their Tesla, travelling under auto control at 55 mph. Talk about ‘being asleep at the wheel!’ An American Airlines mechanic deliberately sabotaged a flight, overriding onboard computer, so he could get more overtime. Luckily, the pilot was able to return the plane safely. Aer Lingus has round-trip flights to Ireland for as low as $399. A never-before-seen “Zipline Roller Coaster” just opened in Pigeon Forge, TN, at Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud Show and Adventure Park). It is named the Flying Ox. Millennials are not going on vacation much, according to a new study by DepositAccounts. 55% of Millennials said they did not go on vacation in the past year for financial reasons, as opposed to 49% of Gen Xers and 35% of Baby Boomers. Millennials are stressed, overworked, underpaid and have budgets that include student debt and pricey rentals. A Nevada plane crash killed two people and injured three, including Good Samaritan who pulled over to help. Nashville has a boutique hotel chain which is also a Contemporary Art Museum. An Australian journalist accidentally paid $100,000 for a beer during a trip to England. An off-duty pilot on vacation with his family saved an entire flight from major delays by offering to fly the EasyJet plane himself. A generous 6-year-old boy used his entire Disney World savings to help Hurricane Dorian evacuees. You can now winery hop through Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley in a vintage VW bus. The Northern Lights are finally visible again. A woman was spotted taking her miniature service horse on an American Airlines flight to Chicago. A flight attendant caused a panic, when she yelled for an evacuation at Newark Airport on Labor Day. New research found that many electronic scooter riders who have been injured were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Health News:

CVS, Wegmans, Kroger and Walgreens have banned customers from openly carrying in their stores, even in states that allow ‘open carry’. The decisions come after a shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, TX that left 22 people dead. A Kansas resident has become the 6th person nationwide to die from a vaporing-related illness. Several states and the CDC have urged the Americans to stay away from vaping devices, until authorities can figure out what has caused a rash of over 471 hospitalized people, suffering severe respiratory issues from vaping. The FDA has tested 120 product samples, and so far has been unable to identify any one brand, ingredient or substance that could explain the illnesses. Although E-cigarettes have been around for more than a decade, reports of vaping-related illnesses only started showing up in July 2019. President Trump is weighing a ban on flavored e-cigarettes. In separate research, experts say vaping can bring on dental diseases such as gingivitis, tooth decay, and even oral cancer. For you pumpkin spice people, Jose Andres mobilized World Central Kitchen in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian. Costco’s famous pumpkin pies are officially back in stores, as is pumpkin spiced latte at Starbuck’s. Oh no, even Krispy Kreme added 2 pumpkin spice doughnuts to its menu. Not kidding, pizza candy canes are coming for you this holiday season. Did you know that you can now apply to be an ‘NFL Food Taster’ and eat at football stadiums across the country? Scientists say left-handed people may have better verbal skills. A new study by University of Michigan suggests that hearing aids can reduce depression and dementia risk. A new UK study suggests that protein shakes ingested after a workout do not do much for your muscles. Facebook and Pinterest are now fighting back against anti-vaccine content and erroneous health information being shared online, given the more than 1,200 measles cases in the US. Researchers say the higher the use of antibiotics, the higher the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Another study say that red wine is better than white wine for gut health. Researchers say treating high blood pressure in older adults can slow cognitive decline. The CEO of Whole Foods doesn’t think much of plant-based meat alternatives, citing that Beyond Burger and the Impossible Burger can be high in sodium and saturated fat. Researchers say that after a heart attack, all clogged arteries should be repaired. A new study finds that Vegetarian and Vegan diets may increase stroke risk, although they reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. In the Bahamas, the survivors will now face many health challenges in the coming weeks. There is no clean water, except bottled water. There have already been two cases of cholera reported.

This will serve as sort of a Public Service Announcement for the more experienced of our industry:

Keep in mind that deals may vary at participating locations and can change without notice.
• McDonald’s: discounts on coffee and beverages (55+)
• Whataburger: free drink with purchase of a meal, depending on location (55+)
• Wendy’s: give free coffee or other discounts depending on location
• Piccadilly Cafeteria: 10% discount with “Prime Time for Seniors” card
• IHOP: 10% discount (55+) and a menu for people aged 55 and over at participating locations
• Krispy Kreme: 10% off (50+) (age and discount varies depending on location)
• Subway: 10% off (60+) varies by location
• The Old Spaghetti Factory: Spaghetti Factory “Senior Menu” offers discounted list of menu items
• Uno Pizzaria & Grill: “Double Nickel Club” 25% off on Wednesday (55+)
• Sizzler: Offers “Honored Guest Menu” (60+) varies by location
• Old Country Buffet: Daily discounts for seniors (55+)
• Friendly’s Restaurants: 10% off meal w/ free coffee at breakfast or free small sunday during non-breakfast hours
• Fazoli’s: Join “Club 62” for special senior menu items (62+)
• KFC: free small drink with any meal depending on location (55+)
• Country Kitchen: Great Senior Menu (55+)
• Burger King: 10% discount on purchase depending on location (60+)

Also, those similarly wizened, can save an average of $3252/year in mortgage payments with the new Government “Enhanced Relief” Program, stop paying for home appliance repairs with new Home Warranty Programs, save up to 70% on car insurance, and take advantage of these shopping deals:

• Bealls Outlet Senior Discounts: 15% off every Tuesday 50+
• Belk: 15% off first Tuesday of every month 62+
• Bon-Ton Department Stores: 15% off on senior discount days; 20% if you use the store’s proprietary credit card 55+
• C.J. Banks/Christopher Banks: 10% off every Wednesday 60+
• Clarks: 10% off 62+
• Dressbarn: 10% off Tues and/or Wed call ahead-varies by location – 55+
• Goodwill: 10% – 20% off one day a week date varies by location – 55+
• Hallmark: 10% off one day a week date varies by location; age may vary depending on the product
• iParty: 10% senior discount every day; ask for discount as soon as you get to the checker
• Kohl’s: 15% off on Wednesdays 60+
• Michael’s: 10% off every day with AARP card – 55+
• Modell’s Sporting Goods: 10% off every day 65+
• Ross Stores: 10% off every Tuesday 55+
• The Salvation Army Thrift Stores: Up to 50% off , days vary 55+
• SteinMart: 20% off red dot/clearance items first Monday of every month 55+
• TJ Maxx Senior: 10% on Mondays FLORIDA only at this time – 55+
• Walgreens: 20% off once a month, “Balance Rewards” card required. 65+ and AARP

La Colombe and MillerCoors have joined the alcohol coffee game with their own Hard Cold Brew. By getting around 6-9 hours of sleep per night, most people can substantially reduce their risk of having a heart attack, according to the latest research. However, too much or too little sleep can increase that risk. Researchers say drinking 2 soft drinks (sweetened by sugar or by artificial ingredients) per day can increase your risk of an earlier death.

Animal News:

A Florida woman found a manatee in her backyard during Hurricane Dorian. North Carolina’s wild horses rode out Hurricane Dorian, as they have hurricanes for 500 years. Okay, I studied animals most of my childhood and I never knew this, polar bears are left-handed (pawed)? The lovely mosquitoes, famous for passing on bad diseases to humans, are now passing on a rare but deadly disease, known as Triple E (Eastern equine encephalitis), which attacks the brain. There have been 7 cases reported so far in the US (MA, MI, FL). Fatality rate is about 30%. Mosquitoes, why did Noah put 2 of them on the Ark? In happier news, hundreds of wild parrots are now thriving in Campo Grande, Brazil, where decades ago, the blue-and-gold macaws arrived, fleeing drought and wildfires. The 18th meeting of the global treaty on cross-border wildlife trade was contentious, but more than 130 species newly received protections. International leaders have instituted a near-complete ban, in which African elephants will no longer be caught in the wild and sent to faraway zoos. Pangolin scale medicines are no longer covered by Chinese health insurance. Scientists have tagged the deepsea shark, bluntnose, hundreds of feet underwater for the first time. Recent studies suggest that Australia’s beloved duck-billed platypus is not as widespread as thought, in part to centuries of hunting and habitat loss. Only 2 northern white rhinos are left in the world and both are female. To preserve their subspecies, scientists are making a bold effort which has completed a critical step. The over 9,000 Amazon jungle wildfires, which were set by humans, are permanently altering the wildlife and vegetation of the area. The fires are now raging in forest in Brazil, Paraguay, Peru, and Bolivia. 10% of the Earth’s animal species live there and many have either died, are retreating to other areas, or are fleeing the area. Once the land is no longer tropical forest, there will be encroachment likely by human settlements, further altering the habitat. For those that think burning forests is Nature’s way of maintaining healthy ecosystems, that is true of some US wildfires and there, animals have adapted to cope with it. However, it is so infrequent in the lush tropical rainforest of the Amazon, that animals are not adapted to cope with it. In fact, that ecosystem is so rich and diverse, precisely because it doesn’t really burn due to natural causes. Constant rains and damp air inhibit fire. The most powerful electric eel has been discovered, capable of giving an 860-volt shock!

Entertainment News:

The Hallmark Channel just released its new Christmas movie schedule and the first one will air in October. Alex Trebek has returned to Jeopardy! After 5 months of treatments for stage-4 pancreatic cancer. He is an inspiration! Matthew Broderick and wife Sarah Jessica Parker are reuniting in Broadway revival of Neil Simon’s “Plaza Suite”. A Very Brady Renovation had the highest-rated premiere in HGTV history. Lisa Kudrow says she struggled playing character Phoebe on Friends. Katey Segal has closed a deal to return to The Connors in Season 2. The show dropped Roseanne Barr. Christian Bale did not agree with Robert Pattinson’s BATMAN casting. Speaking of BATMAN, there is another JOKER movie coming out, starring Joaquin Phoenix. Chance the Rapper has postponed his imminent tour after birth of his daughter. Former American Idol star, Antonella Barba, is facing an arrest after warrant issued. A-Rod said that exes will be invited to his wedding to Jennifer Lopez. Sophia Grace and Rosie are all grown up now, reunited 8 years after appearing many times on Ellen. Bachelor couple has renewed vows in impromptu Las Vegas ceremony. Kevin Hart is back in the news with a back injury suffered in a car crash involving his vintage Barracuda, driven by a friend. The car is now being inspected by CHP. Amanda Bynes has joined Instagram. Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott will be in Playboy. Mila Kunis pranked Ashton Kutcher into growing a terrible mustache. Chris Cornell’s ex-wife is suing his widow over child support. Taylor Swift is showing off her dance moves in new CATS teaser. Wendy Williams is reportedly playing nice so ex will sign divorce papers. Hallmark Channel host Cameron Mathison has revealed his renal cancer battle. Eddie Murphy has reunited with the young star from THE GOLDEN CHILD. Murphy is also planning to return to stand-up comedy in 2020. Joe Guidice from Real Housewives of New Jersey is in ICE custody, awaiting deportation. Orlando Bloom says he turned down a spot on Saturday Night Live because of his dyslexia. Anthony Michael Hall is engaged to Lucia Oskerova. The Weeknd is debuting a new look. Rosario Dawson is dating two senators, one in her upcoming series Briarpatch, the other Sen. Cory Booker, who is running for President. Pierce Brosnan has endorsed the new female James Bond. Jenny Slate and boyfriend Ben Shattuck are engaged. Johnny Depp is defending his Dior ad, amid backlash. Holly Marie Combs married longtime boyfriend Mike Ryan. Sean Connery reportedly rode out Hurricane Dorian in his Bahamas home. Britney Spears’ father has stepped down as her conservator. Bobby Brown was kicked off an airplane after an alleged altercation.

Hollywood’s (and Wall Street’s) billionaire friend and Palm Beach and NYC resident, Jeffrey Epstein, who was accused of operating a sex-trafficking ring involving dozens of victims, was found dead in his cell of an apparent suicide. The details are still a little fuzzy whether he committed suicide or was silenced before what would have been a high profile trial.

Since my last Repo Commentary (7/25), we lost actress Valerie Harper (famous as Rhoda on the Mary Tyler Moore Show, and then her own spinoff sitcom Rhoda) on August 30th. Project Runway star Chris March died 9/5 at age 54. Kylie Rae Harris, “Twenty Years From Now” singer died in a car crash on 9/4 at age 30. Photographer Peter Lindbergh died on 9/3 at age 74. Spanish singer Joana Sainz Garcia died at age 30 while performing on stage in Spain, in September. A pyrotechnics explosion hit her in the stomach while she was singing. American Idol alum Haley Smith died at age 26 in an August motorcycle incident. Peter Fonda of EASY RIDER fame, died on 8/16 at age 79.

The Fall (almost Fall) box-office started off strong this past weekend. Debuting at No.1 was IT: CHAPTER TWO, ad adaptation of Stephen King’s original novel, which made $91 million. 2017’s IT remains the only horror movie ever to top $100 million in its first weekend. IT and IT TWO are not only the No.1 and No.2 openings for horror movies all-time, but also the No.1 and No.2 openings for any movies in September of all-time. No.2 at the box-office was ANGEL HAS FALLEN, which took in $6 million (total now $53 million), in its 3rd week. No.3 at the box-office was GOOD BOYS, with $5.4 million (total now $66.8 million globally), in its 3rd week. No.4 at the box office was THE LION KING, which made only $4.2 million, but now for global total of nearly $1.6 billion! It is now No.7 all-time both globally and internationally. No.5 at the box office was OVERCOMER, which made just $3.75 million, in its 2nd week.

Opening this week in theaters is a trove of movies: the widely-anticipated HUSTLERS (with Jennifer Lopez), THE GOLDFINCH, GANG LEADER, FREAKS, DREAM GIRL, OUT OF LIBERTY, YOU ARE HERE: A COME FROM AWAY, THE FAVORITE, SECTiON 375, BLINK OF AN EYE, PAILWAN, MONOS, FAGARA, HAUNT, 3 DAYS WITH DAD, CHASING EINSTEIN, DEPRAVED, CHAINED FOR LIFE, CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET, RIOT GIRLS, DESOLATION CENTER, THE SOUND OF SILENCE, IRIS: A SPACE OPERA BY JUSTICE, IMPRISONED, HOW TO SAY GOODBYE, ARTIK, A FAMILY SUBMERGED, D-DAY, and THE HARVESTERS. I’m still way behind on movies, although catching up slowly through On Demand. I’m currently confused about whether I’ve seen all the DOG’S purpose, way home, life, etc. franchise.

Technology & Space News:

Separate antitrust investigations will be launched into Facebook and Google’s parent, Alphabet, according to the WSJ. More than half the US state attorneys general have joined to investigate Google’s impact on digital advertising, while the probe into Facebook will focus on its “control” of personal data. Water has been discovered for the first time in atmosphere of habitable exoplanet. Electric cars are dominating the Frankfurt Auto Show. New technology is now taking aim at the $74 billion real estate broker commissions. In a new poll of Americans, the majority asked say they trust the Government to use facial recognition technology responsibly.

US News:

More than half of US workers don’t believe they have the skills required to compete in their industries 10 years from now, according to a survey by Prudential. The survey also shows that workers want to stay with their employers longer than previously suggested. Michael Dell says that “The person who can understand data, explain it to the business and make it actionable will become the most valuable employee of the future.” Did you know that I started in IT (actually MIS) at Morgan Stanley almost 37 years ago? Bernie Sanders says we should pay college athletes, as “they are workers too”. Actually, it is their hard work and performance which has a major impact on endowments, alumnae funds, and investments for colleges. US rural counties are showing higher rates of suicide, due to poverty and low employment. Washington DC is now considered to be one of the safest US cities. University of Washington’s medical school is working with 4 states to bring more doctors to their rural communities. We are in a major shortage of physicians in the rural communities. Some hospitals are getting creative in the ways they compensate and attract new doctors. Here in Florida, we are full up on lawyers (over 10,000) and real estate brokers (over 10,000). Elizabeth Warren has topped poll of Democrats. Some veterans with PTSD are turning to beekeeping for relief from anxiety. President Trump has suggested tracking mentally ill by their phones, to try to reduce mass shootings. Newsrooms across America have had their staffs cut by 33,000 this year. Retail store bankruptcies are on the rise and store closures are skyrocketing across the US.

International News:

Israeli Defense Force has struck Gaza after rocket sirens force PM Netanyahu off stage. A Dutch doctor was acquitted in a landmark euthanasia trial. Arab nations have condemned Israeli annexation plan. Barcelona soccer player, Anda Turan, has received a suspended sentence for firing a gun in a hospital after a fight with a singer. PM Justin Trudeau has called a Canadian general election. A toddler has testified in a Myanmar ‘nursery rape’ case. Iran’s ‘blue girl’ has died after setting herself on fire. US airstrikes are targeting an island “infested” with ISIS. North Korea says it test-fired a “super large multiple rocket launcher” on Tuesday. The projectiles landed in the Sea of Japan. The test-firing occurred just hours after a top North Korean diplomat working on nuclear negotiations with the US said Pyongyang would be open to resuming talks with Washington.

Florida:

I am usually singing a National Anthem and doing an Elvis gig each week here in Palm Beach County, FL. I think I have 6 gigs in the month of September and I did finally break down and buy a performance wig, because of the receding grey hair. If you were interested in seeing much more famous bands or solos in concert than my Generation Gap or Elvis Presley performances, there were many acts which came to Florida, perhaps when you were visiting:

The Temptations-Fort Lauderdale, January 31
Don McLean-Immokalee, January 31
Michael Bolton-Fort Lauderdale, February 2
The Four Tops and the Temptations-West Palm Beach, February 2
Melissa Manchester-Aventura, February 8
Michael Bolton-West Palm Beach, February 8
The Commodores-Miami, February 9
Patti LaBelle-Fort Myers, February 11
Duran Duran-Miami Beach, February 12
Franki Valli & the Four Seasons, Hollywood, February 14
Andrea Bocelli-Miami, February 14
Dave Mason-Fort Lauderdale, February 15
Little River Band-Fort Myers, February 15
Michael Buble-Sunrise, February 16 (I would like to go)
Alan Parsons Project-Fort Lauderdale, February 18
Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes-Bonita Springs, February 20
Art Garfunkel-Fort Lauderdale, February 20
Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20
Sarah Brightman-Hollywood, February 20
PGA Honda Classic-PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, February 28-March 2
Pink-Sunrise-March 1 (it was fantastic!)
Sara Mclachlan-March 1, West Palm Beach
Paul Anka-Fort Lauderdale-March 4
Elton John-Sunrise, March 16
Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band-Sunrise, March 17
Steve Miller Band-Hollywood, March 17
Tony Bennett-Miami, March 21
Palm Beach International Boat Show-West Palm Beach, March 28-March 31
Jackson Browne-West Palm Beach, April 3
Abba The Concert-Miami Beach, April 4
The Rolling Stones-Miami, April 20
Whitesnake-Fort Lauderdale, April 25
Slayer-West Palm Beach, May 11
Rascal Flatts-West Palm Beach, May 23
Ariana Grande-Orlando, May 29
Ozzie Osbourne & Megadeth-Sunrise, May 31
Hootie & the Blowfish-West Palm Beach, June 8
Florence and The Machine-Miami, June 9
Train & Goo Goo Dolls-West Palm Beach, July 6
Hugh Jackman-Sunrise, July 6
Jeff Lynnes’ Electric Light Orchestra-Sunrise, July 9
New Kids on the Block, Salt N Pepa, Naughty by Nature-Sunrise, July 14
Iron Maiden-Sunrise, July 18
Dave Matthews Band-West Palm Beach, July 26
Jennifer Lopez-Miami, July 26
Korn & Alice in Chains-West Palm Beach, July 28
Shawn Mendes-Miami, July 28
Queen & Adam Lambert-Sunrise, August 17
Florida Georgia Line-West Palm Beach, August 29
Peter Frampton-West Palm Beach, September 6
Dane Cook-Fort Lauderdale, September 28

Repo Commentary-7/25/19

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I sang my 147th MLB game last Wednesday night in Jupiter, FL. I’m also still singing Elvis gigs with my 6-part harmony group, Generation Gap, all over Palm Beach County. I had an uneventful birthday on 7/11, the same birthday as my former partner at Cantor Fitzgerald, Tom Sapio. Happy Birthday, Tom!

I have also been interviewing for jobs, finished with the memoir I ghost-wrote (I think it’s finished), chaired a conference (although I just missed a lot of you at Crane’s), and wrote some articles. I am still looking to re-enter the Securities Financing Market, so if you hear of anything… I will likely be up in NYC to meet with folks in mid-August.

My Repo Commentary is posted on my website: http://www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn, the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website, and on CentralBanks.com as an op-ed. I’m trying to make it more frequently than monthly.

If you need to reach me, my cell is still 646-753-1300, my email for work is jeffkidwell82@gmail.com, and you can also hit me up on LinkedIn. Oddly, in the last two weeks, two other books for ghost-writing have landed in my lap, one will likely be a movie, but I haven’t decided what I want to do about them. I am still very interested in getting back into our Securities Financing industry in some capacity.

Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my former firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information. I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures. Also, please send me feedback, as I want to make it better all the time. I’m trying a new format for historical data, so let me know what you think. As many of you know, it used to be a daily Repo Commentary back in the 80s and for a long time.

07/25 Holidays or Events:

• Carousel Day or Merry-Go-Round Day
• Hire a Veteran Day
• National Chili Dog Day
• National Intern Day
• National Refreshment Day
• International Red Shoe Day
• Thread the Needle Day
• Video Games Day
• Culinarians Day
• Feast of Saint James (Western Christianity)
• National Hot Fudge Sundae Day
• National Refreshment Day
• National Wine and Cheese Day
• Health and Happiness with Hypnosis Day
• Guanacaste Day (Costa Rica)
• National Baha’I Day (Jamaica)
• National Day of Galicia (Galicia)
• Puerto Rico Constitution Day (Puerto Rico)
• Republic Day (Tunisia)

Some Famous People Born 07/25 in History:

• 1109-Afonso I, King of Portugal
• 1165-Ibn Arabi, Andalusian Sufi mystic, poet, and philosopher
• 1394-James I, King of Scotland
• 1556-George Peele, English translator, poet and dramatist
• 1806-Maria Weston Chapman, American abolitionist
• 1894-Walter Brennan, American actor
• 1923-Estelle Getty, American actress
• 1934-Don Ellis, American trumpet player and composer
• 1935-Adnan Khashoggi, Saudi Arabian businessman
• 1941-Nate Thurmond, American basketball player
• 1954-Walter Payton, American football player, one of the greatest, and my favorite
• 1955-Iman, Somalian-English model and actress
• 1962-Doug Drabek, American baseball player and coach
• 1967-Matt LeBlanc, American actor and producer
• 1971-Billy Wagner, American baseball player and coach

This Day in History (7/25):

• 306-Constantine I is proclaimed Roman emperor by his troops
• 315-the Arch of Constantine is completed near the Colosseum in Rome to commemorate Constantine I’s victory over Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge
• 677-climax of the Siege of Thessalonica by the Slavs in a 3-day assault on the city walls
• 864-the Edict of Pistres of Charles the Bald orders defensive measures against the Vikings
• 1137-Eleanor of Aquitaine married Prince Louis, later King Louis VII of France, in Bordeux
• 1139-Battle of Ourique: the Almoravids, led by Ali ibn Yusuf, are defeated by Prince Afonso Henriques who is proclaimed King of Portugal
• 1261-the city of Constantinople is recaptured by Nicaean forces under the command of Alexios Strategopoulos, re-establishing the Byzantine Empire
• 1467-the Battle of Molinella: the first battle in Italy in which firearms are used extensively
• 1547-Henry II of France is crowned
• 1554-Mary I marries Philip II of Spain at Winchester Cathedral
• 1593-Henry IV of France publicly converts from Protestantism to Roman Catholicism
• 1603-James VI of Scotland is crowned King of England (James I of England), bringing the Kingdom of England and Kingdom of Scotland into personal union. Political union would occur in 1707
• 1609-the English ship Sea Venture, en route to Virginia, is deliberately driven ashore during a storm at Bermuda to prevent its sinking; the survivors go on to found a new colony there
• 1755-British governor Charles Lawrence and the Nova Scotia Council order the deportation of the Acadians
• 1759-French and Indian War: in Western New York, British forces captured Fort Niagara from the French, who subsequently abandon Fort Rouille
• 1783-American Revolutionary War: the war’s last action, the Siege of Cuddalore, is ended by a preliminary peace agreement
• 1788-Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart completes his Symphony No.40 in G minor
• 1799-At Abu Qir in Egypt, Napoleon I of France defeats 10,000 Ottomans under Mustafa Pasha
• 1814-War of 1812: an American attack on Canada is repulsed
• 1824-Costa Rica annexes Guanacaste from Nicaragua
• 1868-the Wyoming Territory is established
• 1894-the First Sino-Japanese War begins when the Japanese fire upon a Chinese warship
• 1898-in the Puerto Rico Campaign, the United States seizes Puerto Rico from Spain
• 1908-Ajinomoto is founded. Kikunae Ikeda of the Tokyo Imperial University discovers that a key ingredient in kombu soup stock is monosodium glutamate (MSG), and patents the process for manufacturing it.
• 1909-Louis Beiriot makes the first flight across the English Channel in a heavier-than-air machine from Calais to Dover, England in 37 minutes
• 1917-Sir Robert Borden introduces the first income tax in Canada as a “temporary” measure
• 1934-the Nazis assassinate Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dolifuss in a failed coup attempt
• 1940-General Henri Guisan orders the Swiss Army to resist German invasion and makes surrender illegal
• 1942-the Norwegian Manifesto calls for nonviolent resistance to the German occupation
• 1943-WWII: Benito Mussolini is forced out of office by the Grand Council of Fascism and is replaced by Pietro Badoglio
• 1944-WWII: Operation Spring is one of the bloodiest days for the First Canadian Army during the war
• 1946-Nuclear weapons testing: Operation Crossroads: an atomic bomb is detonated underwater in the lagoon of Bikini Atoll
• 1956-45 miles south of Nantucket Island, the Italian ocean liner SS Andrea Doria collides with the MS Stockholm in heavy fog and sinks the next day, killing 51
• 1957-the Republic of Tunisia is proclaimed, under President Habib Bourguiba
• 1965-Bob Dylan goes electric at the Newport Folk Festival, signaling a major change in folk and rock music
• 1973-Soviet Mars 5 probe is launched
• 1976-Viking I takes the famous Face on Mars photo
• 1978-birth of Louise Joy Brown, the first human to have been born after conception by in vitro fertilization (IVF)
• 1979-another section of the Sinai Peninsula is peacefully returned by Israel to Egypt
• 1993-Israel launches a massive attack against Lebanon in what the Israelis call Operation Accountability, and the Lebanese call the Seven-Day War
• 1994-Israel and Jordan sign the Washington Declaration that formally ends the state of war that had existed between the nations since 1948
• 1996-in a military coup in Burundi, Pierre Buyoya deposes Sylvestre Ntibantunganya
• 2000-Concorde Air France Flight 4590 crashes at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, killing 113 people
• 2007-Pratibha Patil is sworn in as India’s first female president
• 2010-WikiLeaks publishes classified documents about the War in Afghanistan, one of the largest leaks in US military history

Daily Weird Facts:

A Finnish soldier fought for Finland (against the Russians) earned the Mannerheim Cross, the Nazis (against the Russians), and the first US Army Special Forces. He escaped a British POW camp, earned a Bronze Star, five Purple Hearts, and disappeared in Vietnam in 1965. In 1999, his remains were found and identified. He had died on a Special Forces military mission when his helicopter crashed. His name was Lauri Torni, and later Larry Thorne. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“If she’s amazing, she won’t be easy. If she’s easy, she won’t be amazing. If she’s worth it, you won’t give up. If you give up, you’re not worthy…Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you; you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for.”—Bob Marley

Currency and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices closed at:

$74.34/barrel on 10/5
$47.66/barrel on 12/23
$48.63 on 01/07
$52.31/barrel on 01/16
$55.26/barrel on 2/3
$55.41/barrel on 2/26
$73.77/barrel on 4/29
$63.28/barrel on 5/17
$54.07/barrel on 6/18
$55.96/barrel on 7/24

President Trump’s verbal war (so far) with Iran continues to have a direct impact on oil prices. As the sanctions against countries purchasing oil from Iran has increased the volatility of the price of oil.

The price of gasoline at my new West Palm Beach station has risen again in the last week to $2.49/gallon. Most of the other stations in the area are 20-40 cents more per gallon.

One USD versus the Yen was trading at (these are all Repo Commentary dates):

112.20 on 12/24
108.60 on 01/07
109.07 on 01/16
103.18 on 02/03
104.86 on 2/25
103.86 on 5/17
102.59 on 6/18
102.43 on 7/24

One Euro was trading on:

12/24 at $1.1426
01/07 at $1.1478
01/16 at $1.1396
02/03 at $1.2047
02/25 at $1.1955
05/17 at $1.1761
06/18 at $1.1825
07/24 at $1.1740

One British Pound was trading on:

12/24 at $1.2655
01/07 at $1.2770
01/16 at $1.2880
02/03 at $1.3758
02/25 at $1.3728
05/17 at $1.3427
06/18 at $1.3157
07/24 at $1.3070

One USD versus the CAD at:

1.3442 on 12/24
1.3297 on 01/07
1.3255 on 01/16
1.2492 on 2/03
1.2492 on 2/25
1.2800 on 5/17
1.2740 on 6/18
1.2480 on 7/24

Gold closed on 6/18 at $1350.10/ounce. Yesterday, it closed at $1425.60/ounce.

Bitcoin was trading at (Repo Commentary Dates):

$8,185.21 on 7/25
$6,350 on 10/5
$3,774.97 on 12/24
$3,7774.97 on 01/07
$3,598.90 on 01/16
$3,421.10 on 02/06
$3,826.44 on 02/26
$8,100.00 on 05/16
$7,215.79 on 05/17
$9,088.59 on 06/18
$11,919.30 on 06/25
$9,790.37 on 07/24

After rebounding dramatically since the beginning of the year, although certainly not to its $19,000 highs, bitcoin has reversed over the last month.

Global Financial News:

Boris Johnson won the election for British PM. Now, he has 100 days to deal with Brexit. He has already demanded the removal of the Irish backstop for the Brexit deal. The IMF sent a warning about that, that a no-deal Brexit will pose a threat to world economy.UBS earnings were less than expected, driven by under-performance in main businesses. The IMF has said that trade tensions are driving a slowdown in global trade and downgraded global economic forecast to 3.2% growth this year, down .1% from April. The first tech stocks to launch on Shanghai Star market enjoyed an unprecedented rally. Bank of America and UBS have joined other banks’ fundraising work in the private company deals. ECB’s Draghi has hinted at new measures to help the Eurozone economy. He said a “significant degree” of monetary stimulus is necessary and that risks surrounding Eurozone growth remain tilted to the downside. German manufacturing reports industry is way down. Hedge fund Caxton is moving its headquarters to London. The Turkish central bank cut its main lending rate by 4.25%, as the new governor takes control. German bond yields bounced off record lows, after Draghi said recession risk is “pretty low”. Greek 10-year yield fell under 2% for the first time ever, actually below the US 10-year yield. What financial crisis? JGBs rose as the weak Eurozone data supported global monetary easing. During a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee, some Representatives expressed concern that the merger of BB&T and SunTrust banks will create a “mega-bank” that may be difficult to regulate and could pose a systemic risk to the financial system. Bank officials deflected the concerns and highlighted the benefits. Internal government watchdogs are warning of the FDIC and Federal Reserve cybersecurity shortcomings, which could lead to theft of sensitive financial data. An ECB survey shows that many Eurozone banks have boosted criteria for most business and personal loans during Q2. However, standards for approving mortgages remained unchanged from Q1. Bank of America said that the public and investors are losing confidence in the Bank of England’s economic forecasts, which could lead to more erratic monetary policy. Santander Bank hired Timothy Wennes, formerly West Coast president of MUFG Union Bank, as its new president and CEO of the US division. The House of Representatives has approved a bill to rescue multiemployer pension funds close to collapse. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that with at least six financial regulators looking at the risks of cryptoassets, additional rules are likely to emerge. Face-to-face US/Chinese trade talks will resume next week in Shanghai. Christine Lagarde is still awaiting confirmation to replace Mario Draghi. A Federal Reserve study finds that ownership of leveraged loans is concentrated among banks, S&Ls, mutual funds, and insurance companies. WesBanco, Inc. and Maryland-based Old Line Bancshares, Inc. are merging in a $500 million deal expected to close in 2-3 years.

US Market News:

The Dow Jones (global stocks as well) was happy with most earnings reports, monetary policy outlook, and US budget progress. The central bank meetings are causing some defensive positioning in US Treasuries. Kyle Bass says you’re going to see softness in the US economy in 2020.

The Dow Jones closed at (Repo Commentary Dates):

26,656.77 on 9/20/18
26,447.05 on 10/5/18
21,792.20 on 12/23/18
21,712.53 on 12/26/18
24,207.16 on 01/16/19
25,063.89 on 2/06/19
26,106.47 on 2/25/19
25,862.68 on 5/16/19
26,465.54 on 6/18/19
27,269.97 on 7/24/19 down 79 points

S&P 500 also gave up its all-time high on 9/20/18 of 2,930.66, closing on:

10/5/18 at 2,885.58
12/26/18 at 2,467.70
01/07/19 at 2,549.69
01/16/19 at 2,616.10
02/06/19 at 2,706.53
02/25/19 at 2,799.34
05/16/19 at 2,876.32
06/18/19 at 2,917.75
07/24/19 at 3,019.56 new all-time high

Nasdaq too gave up its 8/28/18 high of 8,030.04, closing on:

10/5/18 at 7,788.45
12/26/18 at 6,554.36
01/07/19 at 6,823.47
01/16/19 at 7,034.70
02/06/19 at 7,263.87
02/25/19 at 7,561.87
05/16/19 at 7,898.05
06/18/19 at 7,953.68
07/24/19 at 8,321.50 new all-time high

US Treasury yields have been in free-fall since hitting highs in October 2018.

2 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 2.88%
12/18/18 at 2.65%
01/07/19 at 2.53%
01/16/19 at 2.55%
02/06/19 at 2.52%
02/22/19 at 2.48%
05/16/19 at 2.20%
06/18/19 at 1.86%
07/24/19 at 1.83%

3 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 2.99%
12/18/18 at 2.64%
01/07/19 at 2.47% (inverted to 2years)
01/16/19 at 2.53%
02/06/19 at 2.50%
02/22/19 at 2.46%
05/16/19 at 2.15%
06/18/19 at 1.80%
07/24/19 at 1.79%

5 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.07%
12/18/18 at 2.65%
01/07/19 at 2.49%
01/16/19 at 2.54%
02/06/19 at 2.51%
02/22/19 at 2.47%
05/16/19 at 2.18%
06/18/19 at 1.83%
07/24/19 at 1.82%

7 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.18%
12/18/18 at 2.74%
01/07/19 at 2.60%
01/16/19 at 2.62%
02/06/19 at 2.59%
02/22/19 at 2.55%
05/16/19 at 2.28%
06/18/19 at 1.93%
07/24/19 at 1.93%

10 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.23%
12/18/18 at 2.82%
01/07/19 at 2.70%
01/16/19 at 2.73%
02/06/19 at 2.70%
02/22/19 at 2.65%
05/16/19 at 2.40%
06/18/19 at 2.06%
07/24/19 at 2.05%

30 YEAR BONDS closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.40%
12/18/18 at 3.07%
01/07/19 at 2.99%
01/16/19 at 3.07%
02/06/19 at 3.03%
02/22/19 at 3.02%
05/16/19 at 2.84%
06/18/19 at 2.55%
07/24/19 at 2.58%

“The Municipal-Bond Market Is Now Controlled by Just a Few Firms: There has been a mammoth shift in the $4 trillion muni market over the past decade as investors have increasingly used professional money managers to invest in both high- and low-grade state and local government debt. Mutual-fund holdings of municipal bonds now total $738.6 billion, according to Federal Reserve data, a more than 50% increase since 2009.” Wall Street Journal

Housing News:

Almost 40% of home in the US are mortgage-free. HUD has suspended the down payment assistance rule change for FHA loans “until further notice”, on Tuesday. New Home Sales in June rose, after two months of declines. But the 7% gain in June came with further downward revisions to the three prior months. Meanwhile, MBA purchase applications fell for the second consecutive week. There are now mortgages available for borrowers without credit scores.

Repo News:

I hear there may be some upcoming consolidation in the financial industry conference space, as some firms are trimming sponsorship and there are a lot of conferences. Meanwhile, there has been considerable movement in the all-to-all, peer-to-peer, CCP, electronic platform space for Repo & Securities Lending. One firm has been going gangbusters on Total Return Swaps for their electronic platform, another has had to lay of some people, another electronic platform shut down its London effort and trimmed US marketing, Sponsored Repo is reportedly running into a constraint of now some $100 billion in CCLF charges, while one electronic platform is rumored to be having issues, and another one has suddenly popped up for collateralized loans. Meanwhile, peer-to-peer between the insurance companies and money funds is increasing, and peer-to-peer within the pension fund peer group and within the hedge fund peer group may be gaining some traction. Month-end repo rates have been hairy lately, as has liquidity, and unusual setting of SOFR rates to the dealer offer-side of triparty repo. This month-end is currently trading 2.82/2.80. That is a lot of funding pressure for a July month-end, much more than over the last few years, some 32bp, according to Scott Skyrm.

I still see the Repo and Securities Lending market as having changed in many permanent ways. We traditionally had a credit intermediator, the broker/dealers (originally just the primary broker/dealers) and later prime brokers, who were the pipeline through their respective repo matched books for ALL collateral providers to trade with cash providers, without the two sides ever knowing about each other or facing each other. That lack of knowledge of the other side of the dealers’ repo matched book came at a couple of costs, first, the bid/offer spread that went to the dealers, which has been volatile but certainly widened since the Financial Crisis, and second, the defaults of the Financial Crisis, which not only subjected clients to dealer defaults and wider spreads, but in many cases directly impacted clients by making them suddenly the outright traders of repo collateral. Some of that collateral, on top of it, was very illiquid. Not knowing who the other clients were on the other side of the dealers’ repo matched book, and who could potentially bring down those intermediary dealers was costly for many clients. Clearly, with that pipeline of is intermediation becoming severely crimped by post-Financial Crisis regulatory reforms, consolidation and bankruptcies, and the resulting drop of about 60% in balance sheets (which has recovered partially with new entrants to the market and international banks’ increases due to regulatory arbitrage) being used for broker/dealer respective repo matched books, new pathways/pipelines needed to be explored for cash provider and collateral provider clients. My former baby, AVM’s Direct Repo™, was the first of one of such pathways, over 10 years ago. Since then, many other liquidity pathways to these markets have been created, including: the Federal Reserve’s RRP program with cash providers, peer-to-peer financing as reported on Treasury OFR’s website between MMFs and Insurance Companies, As Agented repo through seclending agents and some prime brokers to buyside clients, direct lending from beneficial owners to hedge funds who are short via their agents, indemnified As Agent repo, buyside to buyside Triparty Repo through two international clearing organizations of their custodial clients, electronic all-to-all repo on a few electronic trading platforms like (Elixium, BNY DBVX, State Street’s Cash Cross), FICC’s sponsored repo and cleared repo products for certain sectors of the buyside into that CCP, dealer to dealer and some clients electronic trading platforms (like GLMX, HQLA, and Tradeweb), other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (particularly in Europe, like Eurex, LCH, OCC, CME, etc.), total return swaps platforms (like WeMatch.com), and collateralized loan exchanges like AFX/CBOE. There have still been other firms that have created some king of product that mimics a repo, but yet doesn’t show up on dealers’ balance sheets (so helps them), and/or provides better credit counterparties (so helps clients), and can take many forms. I believe this overall evolution will continue and eventually we will see all of these pathways used in some part, including the traditional pathway (to probably a lesser than historical degree) through the broker/dealers and prime brokers. Some of that balance sheet has returned, as I mentioned above, but maybe for only select ‘platinum’ clients and may come at a higher bid/offer spread or in specific, more profitable products/securities, as other market observers/experts have said.

Securities Finance Industry Conferences:
 

• Deutsche Borse/Clearstream held its annual conference this week in Luxembourg, which I attended last year.
• IMN 25th Beneficial Owners International Securities Finance and Collateral Management Conference was held in Fort Lauderdale, FL on 2/5-2/6. I was chosen as the Chairperson.
• Finadium held a new conference on the Business of Collateral Trading in Frankfurt, Germany on 2/21.
• IMN held its annual Fixed Income Investor Network in Las Vegas on 2/24.
• iMoneyNet held its annual MMExpo in Middleburg, VA 3/4-3/6.
• PASLA/RMA held its 16th annual Conference on Asian Securities Lending in Sydney, Australia 3/5-3/7.
• GIOA held its 15th annual conference in Las Vegas 3/20-3/22.
• Crane Data held its annual Bond Fund Symposium in Philadelphia on 3/25-3/26.
• Finadium held its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference in NYC on 5/2-5/3.
• GFOA held its 113th annual conference in Los Angeles on 5/19-5/22.
• Securities Lending Times held its annual Securities Finance Technology Symposium in London on 5/9.
• IMN held its annual Global ABS conference in Barcelona, Spain on 6/11-6/13.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income Leaders USA Summit in Philadelphia, PA on 6/18-6/20.
• ISLA held its Securities Finance and Collateral Management conference in Madrid this week.
• Crane Data held its annual Money Fund Symposium on 6/24-6/26 in Boston.
• Hedge Fund Association is holding its Rooftop Social in NYC on 6/27.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income & FX Leader Summit in Singapore on 9/17-9/19.
• IMN will hold its annual ABS East conference in Miami Beach, FL on 9/22-9/24.
• IMN will hold its annual European Securities Finance conference in London on 9/25-9/26.
• Crane Data will hold its annual European Money Fund Symposium in Dublin, Ireland on 9/23-24.
• Finadium will hold its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference Europe in London on 9/24.
• National Association of State Treasurers will hold its annual conference in Naples, FL on 10/6-10/9.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its Fixed Income Leaders conference in Barcelona on 10/7-10/9.
• RMA will hold its 37th annual Conference on Securities Finance and Collateral Management in Boca Raton, FL on October 14-17, as they just announced.
• American Financial Professionals (AFP) will hold its annual conference in Boston, MA on 10/20-10/23.
• Finadium will hold its Rates & Repo conference in New York on 11/4
• Risk.net will hold its 25th annual Risk USA conference in NYC in November.
• SIFMA will hold its annual Meeting in Washington, DC on 11/18-11/20.

Federal Reserve News:

The Fed Funds rate, which is still the target rate of Federal Reserve monetary policy and changes to which are made by and announced by the FOMC at regularly scheduled meetings, is currently set at 2.50%. However, the Effective Fed Funds Rate (EFFR), as reported by the NY Fed on its website, is only 2.39% as of 5/16/19.. it has drifted lower, averaging about 12bp below the actual target rate.. Now, Fed Funds don’t TRADE much like they used to, just between some regional banks and GSEs.

The Overnight Bank Funding Rate (OBFR), also published by the NY Fed to capture the volume-weighted median of overnight federal funds transactions, Eurodollar transactions, and the domestic deposits reported by banks. That rate on 5/16/19 was 2.38% and has been very constant throughout this month.

The Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) is supposed to be a broad measure of the cost of borrowing cash overnight collateralized by US Treasury securities. It is also reported by the NY Fed on its website. It has been controversial and has been considered as a possibly replacement for LIBOR. SOFR includes trades in the Broad General Collateral Rate of Repo plus bilateral Treasury Repo transactions cleared through the DVP services at CCP FICC, ostensibly filtering out issues trading Special. However, critics (and I am one) say that it only picks up the Offered Side of Repo (not a median), that it only picks up the small amount of DVP transactions cleared at FICC and Triparty Repo done at Bank of NY, ignoring the growing amount of bilateral (non-Triparty) repo being done peer-to-peer, dealer-to-dealer, and client-to-dealer, outside of FICC. It is a good representation of where Money Funds (except for a few savvy ones who trade peer-to-peer) are paid on their cash versus US Treasuries in Repo each day by broker/dealers. It almost completely ignores other sectors, particularly buyside clients with collateral. That all being said, the current SOFR reported by the Fed for 05/16/19 was 2.43%.

The next FOMC meetings are: 7/31/19, 9/18/19, 10/30/19, 12/11/19, 1/29/20.

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (mostly banks, GSEs, and MMFs) is used as a tool by the Federal Reserve, along with its Fed Funds target-setting monetary policy, and OER for depository institutions, to help control short-term interest rates. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight. Remember when RRP was trading at year-end for $465 billion? Well, on 5/15/19, there was only $20 million in bids submitted. MMF cash and GSE cash has moved out of the Fed’s RRP and into the Repo market. So, if RRP is not extinct, it is certainly now dormant, occasionally coming out of hibernation for year-ends and quarter-ends, when liquidity becomes very strange.

In December, at the FOMC meeting, the Federal Reserve signaled that it would raise the benchmark Fed Funds rate to 2.50% at the December FOMC meeting, 3.00% in 2019, and 3.50% in 2020. If you are keeping score, the Federal Reserve raised the Fed Funds target rate on these dates so far:

12/15/15 to 0.50%
12/14/16 to 0.75%
3/5/17 to 1.00%
6/14/17 to 1.25%
12/13/17 to 1.50%
3/21/18 to 1.75%
6/13/18 to 2.00%
9/26/18 to 2.25%
12/13/18 to 2.50%

Quantitative Easing was ‘tapered off’ in 2013. The Fed still had $4 trillion of debt in 2017 on its books from that QE. In October 2017, it began allowing those holdings to gradually decline. For fun, the Fed Funds target rate was 5.25% before the Fed cut of 9/18/2007.

Now, folks in the market, over the last couple of months, have been talking more about when the Federal Reserve is going to CUT interest rates, rather than RAISE them again. The WSJ reports that investment banks remain skeptical that the Federal Reserve will reduce interest rates this summer, despite the markets having priced one 25bp cut in. Up to now, the Fed was just changing the IOER relative to the target Fed Funds rate, to smooth these episodes. But, IOER used to sit 25bp above the upper rate of the range and now it sits 15bp below that upper rate. Many people believe or hope that the FOMC will vote for a rate cut at next week’s meeting. TIAA Bank EVP John Pataky said a rate cut at the meeting next week might boost the housing market.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

Latest strong earthquakes (4.5 magnitude and above):

7/22 4.2 16km S of Twentynine Palms, CA
7/19 5.3 3km NNW of Magoula, Greece
7/16 4.3 12km WSW of Byron, CA
7/16 5.7 36km SSE of Kendalrejo, Indonesia
7/14 7.3 102km NNE of Laiwui, Indonesia
7/14 6.6 202km W of Broome, Australia
7/12 4.9 8km ENE of Ridgecrest, CA
7/12 4.6 Three Lakes, WA
7/08 5.7 28km SE of Masjed Soleyman, Iran
7/07 6.9 132km WSW of Kota Ternate, Indonesia
7/06 7.1 Ridgecrest, CA

Weather:

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began June 1st and ends November 30th. For 2018, Colorado State University experts had predicted an above average season of 14 named Tropical Storms, of which 7 would become Hurricanes. Both are above the averages of 12 and 6, respectively. But, there were 15 named Tropical Storms, of which 8 were hurricanes, and 2 of them major. So, they were wrong, but this time, not in a good way.

Hurricane officials are warning Floridians to prepare in advance of the upcoming storm season. There are several national meteorological services and scientific agencies that forecast how many named storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes (above Category 3). TSR, CSU, and The Weather Company were similar numbers, while NCU was higher. CSU has been the most used and they forecast for 2019 a near-average season of 13 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes.

The Hurricane names for the 2019 North Atlantic season are:

Andrea
Barry
Chantal
Dorian
Erin
Fernand
Gabrielle
Humberto
Imelda
Jerry
Karen
Lorenzo
Melissa
Nestor
Olga
Pablo
Rebekah
Sebastian
Tanya
Van
Wendy

The Pacific Hurricane Season started 5/1/18 and ends 11/1/18.

There is currently no tropical cyclone activity expected during the next 48 hours in Atlantic. Storm 3 just passed by the East coast of Florida with no impact. In the Eastern North Pacific, Tropical Depression Dalila continues to weaken.

As for the weather, the US has been dealing with huge storms, flooding, hail, tornadoes, and very whacky temperatures. The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic and parts of the Midwest had triple digit heat indices, followed by cold rain and winds. A tornado hit Cape Cod and tore off a hotel roof. When I lived in Massachusetts 1960-1978, there was only one tornado and it was in Nashua, NH. Meanwhile, here in Florida, where we expect heat and humidity, May was an all-time record hot May for the state, and was followed by a record hot June for the state. July could follow suit, as the heat index here seems to have been 100-110 every day, and the temperature in Palm Beach County has been between 90-99 degrees. You can’t do anything strenuous outside for more than 2 hours, without risking heat stroke or heat exhaustion. The good news is that for the first time in years, the state does not have a drought, as we have had heavy thunderstorms every afternoon. There is a critical fire weather risk forecast by the National Weather Service across portions of the Northern Rockies. Cooler temperatures have slid down over parts of the country from Alaska. Internationally, Paris, London, and Berlin could see record high temperatures today, as the summer extreme heat wave continues to roast the area. Earlier this Summer, Paris hit a all-time record high of 114.6 degrees F. Today, Paris will be hotter than Cairo, Egypt. London is expected to be about 105 degrees F.

Sports News:

MLB:

Is was hard to get into baseball, with the NBA and NHL FINALS still going, almost to mid-June. Now, that that’s over, we can focus on baseball (and soccer, golf, and tennis). Of course, the other issue is that the MLB season goes from March until November and 162 regular season games, so you still won’t miss much. The MLB regular season began 3/28 this year and the 2018 World Series Champion Red Sox did not start well, in last place and have been struggling. In a way, their rival Yankees are burning up the field and the standings this year, just the way the Red Sox did last year. The Red Sox begin a critical 14 games stretch with first place Yankees and second place Rays (they won the first 2 games and lost the third on Wednesday). We are about 96-102 games in of the 162-game regular season, so people are starting to watch the Standings and the Wild Card races. Let’s take a look: AL East-Yankees are solidly in first place, despite their rash of hitter injuries, 9 ½ games ahead of the Rays and 10 ½ games ahead of the Red Sox. The Orioles are no longer the worst team in baseball though. AL Central-Twins are still clinging to first place, 3 games ahead of the Indians, but everyone else has fallen off the charts. The Tigers now have the worst MLB record at 30-66. AL West-Astros are in first place, 6 ½ games ahead of the A’s. NL East-the surprising Braves (without the big splashes their rivals made in free agency) are in first place, 5 games ahead of the Nationals and 6 ½ games ahead of the faltering Phillies. NL Central-Cubs are in first place, but tenuously ½ game ahead of the Cardinals and 2 games ahead of the Brewers. The Reds and Pirates are also still within striking distance. NL West-Dodgers are in first place by a mile, 14 ½ games ahead of Giants and 15 ½ games ahead of Diamondbacks.

The Cubs optioned Addison Russell to Triple-A. They also demoted Carl Edwards Jr. Yankees Gary Sanchez has returned to IL with groin strain. Tigers’ asking price for pitcher Matthew Boyd could prevent a deal. A Sandy Koufax statue is part of a $100 million Dodger Stadium renovation. Struggling Triple-A Tim Tebow has been placed on IL with a cut hand. The Dodgers are among teams interested in Orioles reliever Mychal Givens. They need bullpen help, as do the Red Sox (after losing their 2 closers Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel), and the Indians and Braves. The Angels celebrated “genuine and caring” Tyler Skaggs at memorial service. A fan walked onto the field at PNC Park and tried to shake a Phillies’ player’s hand. Astros’ Yordan Alvarez is giving the Astros a historic lift in his MLB career start. He had 35 RBIs through his first 30 games, better than anyone else in baseball history. He also has 11 HRs this season.

Two baseball teams, the White Sox (Guaranteed Rate Field) and the Astros, are intending to put up more measures to protect fans from serious injury at games, particularly extending safety netting to the foul poles. MLB in 2005 recommended that teams extend netting to the end of the dugouts by 2018, and all 30 teams complied. There have been many fans in recent years that have been injured or killed by foul balls or flying bats. Most recently, a young girl was struck by a foul in May in Houston, just beyond the dugout, and a woman was hit by a foul on 6/10 in Chicago and died. In 2017, three different fans were hit by a broken bat, 105-mph foul ball, and another 105-mph foul ball, all at Yankee Stadium.

The MLB announced the class of the six 2019 inductees into the Hall of Fame and they are: Harold Baines, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez (finally), Mike Mussina, Mariano Rivera, and Lee Smith. The ceremony will be on 7/21 in Cooperstown, NY. Baines and Smith were elected to the Hall of Fame by the Today’s Game Era Committee. Baines, an ESPN analyst, will go in as a White Sox, Halladay will go in without a logo, Martinez will go in as a Mariner (kind of insuring that his fellow DH, David Ortiz, will make it too), Mussina will go in without a logo (I’m surprised), Rivera (the greatest reliever of all-time) will go in as a Yankee, and Smith (one of the greatest relievers of all-time) will go in as a Cub.

Golf:

The Open (we call it the British Open) has ended and an Irishman, Shane Lowery, won the tournament, pretty much wire-to-wire, on Ireland soil at Royal Portrush. Sergio Garcia threw his driver at his caddie on Sunday. Jason Day, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson face a potential million dollar shootout. This week, the PGA is at TPC Southwind, at the WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational. A 6-year-old Utah girl died after being struck in the head by her father’s errant tee shot.

NFL:

The 99th NFL regular season ended with the New England Patriots beating the Los Angeles Rams in a defensive battle 13-3 in the Super Bowl. It was QB Tom Brady’s 6th Super Bowl victory. NFL training camps have opened for the 100th NFL season. The NFLPA has sent players a “work stoppage ready” plan after CBA talks. Panthers’ Cam Newton should be “ready to roll” for camp, per coach Ron Rivera. Browns’ Duke Johnson won’t be traded, per Freddie Kitchens. Chargers’ Melvin Gordon won’t report to training camp reportedly. Packers to release Mike Daniels at DT. Jaguars’ Jalen Ramsey arrived at training camp in armored money truck. Falcons are optimistic about Julio Jones contract talks. The Cowboys released Allen Hurns.

Although the NFL season was over, the shortest season of the big 4 team sports in the US, the NFL had a new league, the Alliance of American Football (AAF) League, that had already started playing, which includes players who went undrafted, players trying to make a comeback, and players who are on NFL practice squads. The NFL hoped to make this league into kind of developmental league, like MLB’s minor leagues and NBA’s D-League. It was co-founded by Charlie Ebersol. The NFL then shut down the league just 6 games into the season and stopped paying players. Here were your AAF teams:

Arizona Hotshots
Atlanta Legends
Birmingham Iron
Memphis Express
Orlando Apollos
Salt Lake Stallions
San Antonio Commanders
San Diego Fleet

The AAF is not to be confused with the XFL, which was launched 17 years ago, by Dick Ebersol of NBC, Charlie’s father. Former Seahawks QB Jim Zorn has been named coach and GM of Seattle’s XFL franchise. There is talk that Johnny Manziel will play in XFL.

Let’s look at the new NFL Hall of Fame class, which includes Tony Gonzalez, Ed Reed, Kevin Mawae, Champ Bailey, Johnny Robinson, Pat Bowlen, Gil Brandt, and Ty Law.

NHL:

The puck dropped on the regular season, for some teams, on 10/3. It ended in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals on 6/12, when the St. Louis Blues beat my Bruins 4-3 in the Finals. The Blues were in last place in their division in January and wound up winning it all. We are in the middle of free agency now. Off the list is one of the biggest names, Erik Karlsson, who signed an 8-year/$92 million mega-contract to stay with the Sharks. The Flyers also did a trade-and-sign to get Kevin Hayes. Here is the list of the top 25 unrestricted free agents, their 2018-2019 team, and who signed and who hasn’t:

1_ Artemi Panarin, Blue Jackets (signed by Rangers 7years/$81.5 million)
2_ Matt Duchene, Senators/Blue Jackets (signed by Predators 7years/$56 million)
3_ Sergei Bobrovsky, Blue Jackets (signed by Panthers 7years/$70 million)
4_ Joe Pavelski, Sharks (signed by Stars 3 years/$21 million)
5_ Corey Perry, Ducks (signed by Stars 1 year/$1.5 million)
6_ Robin Lehner, Islanders (signed by Blackhawks 1 year/$5 million)
7_ Wayne Simmonds, Flyers/Predators (signed by Devils 1year/$5 million)
8_ Mats Zuccarello, Rangers/Stars (signed by Wild 5years/$30 million)
9_ Marcus Johansson, Devils/Bruins (signed by Sabres 2years/$9 million)
10_ Gustav Nyquist, Red Wings/Sharks (signed by Blue Jackets 4years/$22 million)
11_ Tyler Myers, Jets (signed by Canucks 5years/$30 million)
12_ Jake Gardner, Maple Leafs (UNSIGNED)
13_ Anders Lee, Islanders (Islanders 7years/$49 million)
14_ Ryan Dzingel, Senators/Blue Jackets (Hurricanes 2years/$6.75 million)
15_ Anton Stralman, Lightning (Panthers 3years/$16.5 million)
16_ Michael Ferland, Hurricanes (Canucks 4years/$14 million)
17_ Patrick Marleau, Maple Leafs (UNSIGNED)
18_ Semyon Varlamov, Avalanche (Islanders 4years)
19_ Joe Thornton, Sharks (UNSIGNED)
20_ Petr Mrazek, Hurricanes (Hurricanes 2years/$6.25 million)
21_ Brett Connolly, Capitals (Panthers 4 years/$13 million)
22_ Brandon Tanev, Jets (Pengurins 6years/$21 million)
23_ Brian Boyle, Devils/Predators (UNSIGNED)
24_ Cam Talbot, Oilers/Flyers (Flames 1year/$2.75 million)
25_ Justin Williams, Hurricanes (UNSIGNED)
There are a lot of unsigned restricted free agents, like Mitch Marner, Mikko Rantanen, Brayden Point, Patrick Laine, Kyle Connor, Brock Boeser, Matthew Tkachuk, etc. Seattle NHL franchise has named HOF Ron Francis as GM. Capitals Alex Ovechkin will travel to China as NHL ambassador. The Blue rewarded backup goalie Jordan Binnington with a 2-year deal after winning the Stanley Cup.

NBA:

The NBA season officially began on 10/3 as well. It officially ended with the underdogs, the Toronto Raptors ousting the favorite Golden State Warriors in six games. Since then, trades and free agent signings and broken contracts have been dominating the sports newswires. I had speculated in the Repo Commentary last year that Duke star Zion Williamson’s blowout of his Nike sneaker, which led to a knee injury, was going to have a major impact on Nike and the other sports shoe companies. Now that Zion has become a Pelican in the NBA Draft, on Tuesday, he finally announced that he had signed an endorsement deal with Jordan Brand, believed to be worth about $1 billion. The brand’s founder is Michael Jordan and the brand is owned by Nike Inc., but has morphed into a distinct brand since its creation in 1984. It is the most lucrative endorsement deal for a rookie ever in NBA history. Steve Kerr has called out the Lakers for recruiting Anthony Davis, the new habit of superstars getting other superstars to join their team to make it unstoppable, saying “it’s bad for the league.”. Kevin Love is the latest NBA star to withdraw from Team USA, before the FIBA World Cup pool and 2020 Summer Olympics. Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Bradley Beal, Zion Williamson, and Tobias Harris pulled out of Team USA before that. The Lakers are reportedly keeping a roster spot open for free agent Andre Iguodala. The Celtics ‘quickly’ rejected an offer for Gordon Hayward. Celtics’ asking price for Jasyon Tatum is reportedly “insane.” Marcus Morris pulled out of an agreement with Spurs and signed with the Knicks. Tim Duncan is returning to Spurs as assistant coach. The Bucks signed Kyle Korver to 1-year deal. The Wizards are offering Bradley Beal an $111 million max extension. The Wizards have also picked Tommy Sheppard as GM and added Sashi Brown to the front office. The NBA is investigating this summers free agent frenzy. The big winners in free agency and the offseason were the Clippers, Nets, and Lakers.

Olympics:

The hype for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo has officially begun. You may have already heard that there will be some new sports added and some sports returning. Many USA Olympic stars will be returning, including the World Cup Champion USA Women’s soccer team.

Tennis:

Wimbledon ended with a surprise on the Women’s side and a record-amazing match on the Men’s side. Serena Williams was upset by Simona Halep in the Final, who outplayed her in every aspect. Then, on Sunday, I watched an amazing 5-set tiebreaker that went a record 4 hours and 57 minutes (for a Wimbledon men’s final), between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, that was epic! Djokovic won the first set in a tiebreaker, was crushed in the second set 6-1, won the 3rd set in a tiebreaker, lost the 4th set 6-4, then won the first ever fifth set tiebreaker, after nearly losing on two championship points! It was Djokovic’s 5th trophy at the All England Club. It was also Djokovic’s 14th major, as he chases that record. John Isner has inked the first professional tennis CBD endorsement deal with Defy sports drink. Currently, in the tennis rankings that are being targeted for revamping by the ATP and WTA tours, the No.1 is Djokovic, the No.2 is Nadal, and No.3 is Federer. Had Federer beaten Djokovic in the Wimbledon Final, he would have moved to No.2 ahead of Nadal.

Fighting:

28-year-old Russian boxer Maxim Dadashev has died from brain injuries suffered in a fight with Subriel Matias.

Horse Racing:

Los Angeles could soon be the first major city to ban horse racing. The Breeders Cup will be at Santa Anita Park 11/1 and 11/2.

Racing:

Last year’s champion, his first, for the NASCAR Cup Series was Joey Logano, who beat Martin Truex Jr. in the final 15 laps of the final race at Homestead. Truex Jr. won the crown in 2017. Here is the schedule of races for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup in 2019 and the results:

2/17 Daytona 500, won by Denny Hamlin
2/24 Atlanta, QuickTrip 500, won by Brad Keselowski
3/3 Las Vegas-Joey Logano
3/10 ISM Raceway-Kyle Busch
3/17 Auto Club-Kyle Busch
3/24 Martinsville-Brad Keselowski
3/31 Texas-Denny Hamlin
4/7 Bristol-Kyle Busch
4/13 Richmond-Martin Truex Jr.
4/28 Talladega-Chase Elliott
5/5 Dover-won by Martin Truex Jr.
5/11 Kansas-won by Brad Keselowski
5/18 All-Star Open Charlotte-won by Austin Dillon
5/26 Charlotte, Coca-Cola 600-won by Martin Truex Jr.
6/2 Pocono, Pocono 400-won by Kyle Busch
6/9 Michigan, Firekeepers Casino 400-won by Joey Logano
6/23 Sonoma, Save Mart 350-won by Martin Truex Jr.
6/30 Chicago, Camping World 400-won by Alex Bowman
7/7 Daytona, Coke Zero 400-won by Austin Haley
7/13 Kentucky, Quaker State 400-won by Kurt Busch
7/21 New Hampshire, Foxwoods Resort Casino 301-won by Kevin Harvick
7/28 Pocono
8/4 Watkins Glen
8/11 Michigan
8/17 Bristol
9/1 Darlington
9/8 Indianapolis
9/15 Las Vegas playoff
9/21 Richmond playoff
9/29 Charlotte playoff
10/6 Dover playoff
10/13 Talladega playoff
10/20 Kansas playoff
10/27 Martinsville playoff
11/3 Texas playoff
11/10 ISM Raceway playoff
11/17 Miami-Homestead final playoff

Formula One began with F1 Car Launch Dates for the various teams from 2/12 through 2/15 for Renault, Racing Point, McLaren, and Ferrari. That was followed by Pre-Season Testing schedule 2/18-2/21 and 2/26-3/1, both in Catalunya, Spain. Here is the 2019 Formula One 21 Race calendar and results (it might be easier to just say which races were not won by Lewis Hamilton):

3/17 Australia Grand Prix in Melbourne-won by V. Bottas
3/31 Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir-won by Lewis Hamilton
4/14 China Grand Prix in Shanghai (this will be the 1000th Grand Prix)-won by Lewis Hamilton
4/28 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku-won by V. Bottas
5/12 Spain Grand Prix in Barcelona-won by Lewis Hamilton
5/26 Monaco Grand Prix in Monaco-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/9 Canada Grand Prix in Montreal-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/23 France Grand Prix in Le Castellet-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/30 Austria Grand Prix in Spielberg-won by Max Verstappen
7/14 Great Britain Grand Prix in Silverstone-won by Lewis Hamilton
7/28 Germany Grand Prix in Hockenheim
8/4 Hungary Grand Prix in Budapest
9/1 Belgium Grand Prix in Spa
9/8 Italy Grand Prix in Monza
9/22 Singapore Grand Prix in Singapore
9/29 Russia Grand Prix in Sochi
10/13 Japan Grand Prix in Suzuka
10/27 Mexico Grand Prix in Mexico City
11/3 USA Grand Prix in Austin, TX
11/17 Brazil Grand Prix in Sao Paulo
12/1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Yas Island

Here is the IndyCar Racing circuit and its 2019 calendar and results (Indy cars are generally considered faster than F1 car along straight lines, mostly because their races are on oval tracks, while F1 tracks are more intricate, requiring better brakes and more aerodynamic grip than Indy cars):

3/10 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg-Josef Newgarden
3/24 Circuit of the Americas-Colton Herta
4/7 Grand Prix of Alabama-Takuma Sato
4/14 Grand Prix at Long Beach-Alexander Rossi
5/11 Grand Prix of Indianapolis-Simon Pagenaud
5/26 Indianapolis 500-Simon Pagenaud
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 1-Josef Newgarden
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 2-Scott Dixon
6/8 Texas Grand Prix-Josef Newgarden
6/23 Road America-Alexander Rossi
7/14 Honda Indy Toronto-Simon Pagenaud
7/20 Iowa 300-Josef Newgarden
7/28 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio
8/18 Pocono Grand Prix
8/24 Gateway Grand Prix
9/1 Grand Prix of Portland
9/22 Grand Prix at Laguna Seca

Travel News:

Not only has peer-to-peer Repo been a hot topic of mine and the industry, but peer-to-peer parking has now become a thing. I if someone pays a weekly, monthly, or annual fee for a parking space, they can rent it out to others when not using it. Sort of Airbnb for parking. Outside Magazine says that fewer kids are now riding bicycles, missing valuable life lessons. Harley-Davidson had to reduce its export forecast, due to the impact of tariff increases. One area of employment that has declined, despite overall increases in jobs in the US, is the railway industry. The parents of a toddler who fell to her death from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship are blaming the company for their daughter’s death. In North Carolina, a 37-year-old father of 6 died after an “intense ocean wave” hit him, breaking his neck, in what authorities are calling a “freak accident”. His family followed his wishes and donated his organs to 55 people. A GoFundMe campaign has since raised more than $160,000 for the family. Another 35-year-old father, recently relocated to NC from Detroit, with his wife and 7 children, drowned Sunday at Wrightsville Beach, as he tired to save two of his children from rough waters while walking on a submerged jetty. He jumped in and managed to save one child, went back for the second and he and the second child went under. The child was rescued and survived. It’s very strange to see 2 similar beach deaths in NC, as well as the previous 3 shark attacks there. USA Today reports that officials are trying to determine where the next deadly wildfires will strike, and of the small communities across 11 states, more than 526 have a higher wildlife hazard potential than Paradise, CA. In Paradise, CA, 85 people died and nearly 19,000 buildings were destroyed in California’s deadliest wildfire in its history, the Camp Fire. Pacific Standard online reports that there will be fewer firefighters fighting fires this year. The truck driver responsible for the deaths of 7 ex-Marine motorcyclists last month, when he crossed a double-yellow line in rural NH, has been charged. Now the trucking company he worked for is being investigated. He was on his third day of working for the company and had been charged with drunken-driving in CT the month before. Ford’s electric F-150 towed a million pounds in a publicity stunt. Tuesday, a tornado ripped off the roof of a Cape Cod hotel. Not typical for the Northeast to see tornadoes. 35 passengers were injured on an Air Canada flight to Australia, due to severe turbulence. The plane was a Boeing 777-200. This follows last week’s news that an Air Canada traveler claimed to have woke up on a “freezing cold,” “pitch black” and empty plane as it sat on the tarmac near the hangar. Somehow, the crew missed that she was still on the plane asleep. On Southwest, a mother had to pay $75 to have her toddler sit with her. Southwest has updated its safety cards to avoid the Max 8 airplane confusion. Southwest has also just pulled out of Newark Airport due to 737 Max groundings. Beijing Auto has bought a stake in Daimler. TSA PreCheck may be coming to a festival or ballpark near you soon. In the meantime, TSA alerts travelers that some 45,000 TSA PreCheck memberships expire in February. “Jurassic World-The Ride” has arrived at Universal-Hollywood’s them park. Disney World Resorts is now offering mermaid school. A sky-high observation deck is being built in NYC. A Florida federal appeals court has now ruled that a lawsuit against Royal Caribbean can move forward over allegations that in 2015, a teenage ship passenger was plied with alcohol and then gang-raped in a cabin on one of its ships. 24/7 magazine has listed the 20 largest cruise ships in the world (based on maximum non-crew passengers they can accommodate):

20. MSC Fantasia-3,274, launched 2008
19. World Dream-3,348, launched 2017
18. Majestic Princess-3,560, launched 2017
17. Carnival Dream-3,646, launched 2009
16. Britannia-3,647, launched 2015
15. Carnival Breeze-3,690, launched 2012
14. Carnival Vista-3,934, launched 2016
13. Norwegian Bliss-4,004, launched 2018
12. MSC Meraviglia-4,500, launched 2017
11. Freedom of the Seas-4,515, launched 2006
10. Independence of the Seas-4,560, launched 2008
9. Ovation of the Seas-4,905, launched 2016
8. Costa Diadema-4,947, launched 2014
7. Costa Venezia-5,100, launched 2019
6. MSC Seaview-5,179, launched 2018
5. AIDAnova-5,200, launched 2018
4. Spectrum of the Seas-5,622, launched 2019
3. MSC Bellissima-5,686, launched 2019
2. Symphony of the Seas-6,680, launched 2018
1. Harmony of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, and Allure of the Seas (all tied)-6,780, launched 2016

Ah, Florida is paradise, although you have to overlook the sweltering heat, the hurricane potential, the shark attacks, the lightning strikes, the gators and crocodiles, bears and panthers, Burmese pythons and 5 indigenous poisonous snakes, poisonous spiders, Red Tide and Blue Green Algae, and now flesh-eating bacteria. A Georgia man was hospitalized this month after contracting a flesh-eating bacteria vacationing in Panama City, FL. In June, a 77-year-old Florida woman died from a flesh-eating bacteria she contracted at Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island in Florida. Also in June, a 12-year-old Indiana girl contracted a flesh-eating bacteria on a family vacation in Destin, FL. All 3 cases come after an alarming report published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, which suggested a flesh-eating bacteria called Vibrio vulnificus may be spreading to regions non-endemic to the microorganism due to unusually warm water. Atlantic-side Florida beach water temperature currently is between 82-85 degrees, very warm. The bacteria has an extremely high mortality rate, and must be accurately diagnosed, followed by rapid antibiotic administration and prompt surgery. The disease can be spread through seawater or undercooked seafood, usually enters through an open wound or scratch, and presents early symptoms of fever, dizziness or nausea, soon after an injury. The Environment America Research and Policy Center report rated the dirtiest beaches in 29 coastal and Great Lakes states. They specifically looked at number of days that bacteria counts exceeded EPA standards in 2018 (not at trash and debris). According to EARPC, these were the dirtiest (most bacteria days in 2018) beaches in these states:

ALABAMA
Fairhope Public Beach, Baldwin (21 days)

CALIFORNIA
Inner Cabrillo Beach, Los Angeles (85 days)
Coronado Ave. Beach, Los Angeles (62 days)

CONNECTICUT
Byram Beach (South), Fairfield (6 days)
Byram Beach (North), Fairfield (6 days)

DELAWARE
Slaughter Beach, Sussex (16 days)

FLORIDA
Bayou Texar, Escambia (24 days)
Sanders Beach, Escambia (23 days)
Crandon Park on Key Biscayne, Miami-Dade (17 days)
Bird Key Park, Sarasota (17 days)

GEORGIA
St. Simons Island Lighthouse, Glynn (6 days)

HAWAII
Keehi Lagoon (North), Honolulu (11 days)

ILLINOIS
South Shore Beach, Cook (93 days)
63rd Street Beach, Cook (91 days)
Foster Avenue Beach, Cook (90 days)
Calumet South Beach, Cook (89 days)
Rogers Avenue Park Beach, Cook (89 days)

INDIANA
Jeorse Park Beach I, Lake (40 days)
Jeorse Park Beach II, Lake (38 days)

LOUISIANA
North Beach, Calcasieu (11 days)
Cypremort Point State Park, St. Mary (10 days)
Fontainbleau State Park, St. Tammany (10 days)

MAINE
Goose Rocks Beach-Site 5, York (14 days)
Goose Rocks Beach-Site 1, York (9 days)

MARYLAND
Camp Pecometh, Kent (9 days)

MASSACHUSETTS
Nahant Bay at Eastern Ave, Essex (39 days)

MICHIGAN
St. Clair Shores Memorial Park Beach, Macomb (26 days)

MINNESOTA
New Duluth Boat Club Landing, St. Louis (16 days)

MISSISSIPPI
Gulfport East Beach, Harrison (44 days)

NEW HAMPSHIRE
State Beach-Left, Rockingham (5 days)

NEW JERSEY
Berkeley Township/Beachwood Beach West, Ocean (14 days)

NEW YORK
Tanner Park, Suffolk (48 days)
Woodlawn Beach State Park, Erie (47 days)

NORTH CAROLINA
Sound access at the intersection of E.Main Street/Tooley Street, Belhaven, Beaufort (11 days)

OHIO
Bay View West, Erie (48 days)
Maumee Bay State Park-Inland, Lucas (43 days)

OREGON
Sunset Bay State Park Beach/Big Creek, Coos (11 days)

PENNSYLVANIA
Beach 11 West in Thompson Bay, Erie (17 days)
Beach 11 East in Thompson Bay, Erie (17 days)

RHODE ISLAND
Easton’s Beach, Newport (10 days)

SOUTH CAROLINA
Withers Swash, Horry (32 days)
Myrtle Beach at 24th Avenue N, Horry (30 days)

TEXAS
Cole Park-Site 3, Nueces (52 days)
Ropes Park-Site 2, Nueces (43 days)

VIRGINIA
North Community Beach, Norfolk City (7 days)

WASHINGTON
Sooes Beach, Clallam (7 days)

WISCONSIN
Cupertino Park, Milwaukee (40 days)

Health News:

Researchers of a new study show that they found structural changes in the brains of diplomats who had served in Cuba compared with a similar control group, and the diplomats showed damage to multiple parts of the brain, commonly associated with concussion or mild traumatic brain injuries. This is part of the investigation into the allegations that the US Embassy in Havana, Cuba was submitted to constant “sonic attacks,” during 2016 and 2017. There were a variety of major changes in the brain of all 40 patients, including differences in volume of white matter and imaging differences in the cerebellum. The diplomats previously reported that they had suffered problems with coordination, balance, equilibrium, dysfunction in eye movement, nausea, dizziness, and memory problems. There is also skepticism of the “sonic attack” theory among other scientists, who debunk the creation of a sonic weapon, microwaves, or infection. New research has found that millions of US adults (including me) that are currently taking an aspirin a day under the mistaken impression it will help their heart, may be doing something more dangerous. Healthcare providers do recommend the practice to some of their patients, but no longer recommend daily use of aspirin to all of their patients, because taking aspirin daily can also increase the risk of bleeding and other cardiovascular issues. That change occurred after 3 studies in 2018 which showed that aspirin isn’t always beneficial for our health. The current American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology guidelines explicitly state that adults older than 70 who haven’t had a heart attack and people who have a higher bleeding risk shouldn’t take aspirin. Doctors now believe that the first prenatal visit should involve a Hepatitis B test, to identify the infection early. Researchers say taking leftover antibiotics or medication purchased online can actually make an infection worse. More women are reportedly using cannabis while pregnant, which is worrying some health experts. New research out of the University of Pittsburgh found that even after a decade of effective treatment, HIV cells can hide in spinal fluid. Experts say the increasing antibiotic resistance of urinary tract infections is becoming a serious public health issue. Researchers say that low iron levels can cause anemia, but high iron levels, while boosting heart health, can also increase stroke risk. Researchers believe that they can catch autism symptoms in babies before their first birthday, by using an eye-tracking technique for early diagnosis.

Animal News:

Llamas are becoming popular guests/photo props at weddings. In Yellowstone National Park, a few days ago, a 9-year-old girl from Florida (and her family) ignored signs posted everywhere that warn people to stay at least 75-100 feet away from all wildlife, and suffered the consequences. She was an estimated 5-10 feet away from a full-grown male bison, which then turned on her, ran her down, and tossed her in the air with his horns, flipping her in mid-air about 15 feet high. She was lucky to suffer no major injuries. Last year, a woman who got too close to a bison in the park wound up being gored but survived. People don’t realize that the two-ton animal can jump 6 feet high and charge at 30 mph. They also don’t give much warning when they are agitated. A wasp spray has led to 3 deaths in West Virginia, after being used as an alternative form of methamphetamine. There are half as many African lions than there were 25 years ago. Although the great white shark is considered at the apex of marine predators, scientists now believe that Orcas (Killer Whales) may actually rule the oceans, as they have been observed on several occasions attacking and eating great white sharks. Great white shark carcasses have been washing up in South Africa and sightings have been made of Orcas attacking great white sharks and eating their livers. Also, the mere presence of Orcas scares great white sharks away from the elephant seal colonies in the Farallon Islands, which benefits the seals, a staple of the great white sharks. Shockingly, after a 1997 attack by Orcas on 5 great white sharks, the entire great white shark population, about 100 animals, skipped their annual feast on seals at the Farallon Islands the following year. Now, here’s the weird part, the Orcas have somehow honed this feeding behavior to perfection, as they may almost a perfect surgical slice between the pectoral fins of the shark and suck out the shark’s liver, leaving the rest of the carcass intact. Goats can perceive each other’s emotions from their voices. Masai giraffes have been declared endangered, as the population in Kenya and Tanzania has declined by nearly 50% in the last 30 years due to poaching and land encroachment.

I’m running this story again, in case you missed it the first time, and then I’ll remove it. Okay, I’m not usually an alarmist, and I know that shark attacks on humans were down in 2018 (66 confirmed unprovoked) from 2017 (84 such incidents). I know that more people die taking selfies than by shark attacks. Since 1959, you are 6 times more likely to die of a lightning strike than a shark attack. There are more than double the number of fatalities from alligator attacks than from shark attacks. I think I read that more people die from having vending machines fall on them than by shark attacks. But, the recent spate of attacks and sightings has been, for want of a better word, alarming. It started with Cape Cod reporting many great white sharks sighted near beaches, because the seal population has exploded. Unfortunately, that’s where they decided to make the fictional town in the movie JAWS. Then, action moved to Florida, where helicopters filmed the annual migration of about 250 black tip sharks off of Broward County and Palm Beach County beaches, as they move up the coast. Mind you, the water temperature here, because of the record land temperatures is suddenly 84 degrees, very hospitable for sharks. Then the shark-watching agency announced that of the sharks they tagged and track, a couple dozen large great white sharks, tiger sharks, bull sharks, and hammerheads are off both coasts of Florida. Then, North Carolina. North Carolina beaches average 2 shark attacks per year, and we saw three in a span of 2 weeks. Despite all the attacks and sightings, it is rare for there to be a human fatality involved with a shark (unprovoked). But, on Tuesday, a 21-year-old girl vacationing in the Bahamas from California, was killed when she and her mother were snorkeling in a common snorkeling area, and attacked by 3 sharks. Shark attacks in the Bahamas are “extremely rare”, according to a marine biologist on ABC News. Typically, experts say that sharks attack humans unprovoked because they get confused by scuba suits, splashing, or silhouette that resembles a seal or turtle. Experts say they don’t really have any interest in humans. However, in this case, it sounds like the 3 sharks hunted the girl. My guess, and I’m no expert, is that the sharks were the very aggressive bull sharks. Annually, the global average is 6 fatalities per year. The fatal shark attack last year off of Cape Cod was the first in Massachusetts since 1936. I just watched a video of a 15-foot great white shark filmed in just 3 feet of water off the coast of Mexico in 2017. The best source of information on worldwide shark attacks is the International Shark Attack File (ISAF) which is part of the Florida Museum of University of Florida.

So, it bears repeating, no matter where you are, in California, North Carolina, Cape Cod, the Gulf of Mexico, the Dead Sea, the Mediterranean, the Bahamas, etc.:

• Swim in groups (probably more than 2, as having the mother there did not help this girl)
• Do not wear shiny jewelry
• Do not splash unnecessarily
• If snorkeling or diving, have a spotter
• Do not swim off any beaches near seals
• Do not swim near or with bait fish, which you can spot where birds are diving
• Do not swim at any beaches with posted purple flag with picture of a shark
• Stay close to shore
• Avoid being in the water at dusk or dawn, feeding times for sharks
• Avoid being in the water during darkness
• Do not enter the water if bleeding in any way, as shark’s olfactory ability is astounding
• Avoid waters with effluents or sewage
• If porpoises are present, that does not mean there aren’t sharks as well, as they feed on similar bait fish
• Avoid bright color clothing, as sharks see contrast particularly well
• Do not allow pets in the water because of their erratic splashing
• Exercise caution swimming in areas between sandbars or near steep drop-offs, as those are favorite hangouts for sharks
Okay, ISAF suggest the following if attacked by a shark:
• Be proactive, hit the shark on the nose, which will temporarily curtail attack and may allow you to get out of the water
• Repeatedly hit the shark on the nose, which unfortunately will become increasingly less effective
• If bitten, claw at its eyes or gill openings, two sensitive areas
• Never act passively, “as sharks respect size and power”

Entertainment News:

Quartz is now writing what I’ve been saying for years, that “Hollywood has hit a creative brick wall”. It has been churning out successful franchise sequels and prequels and spinoffs, or remakes. But, suddenly, blockbuster franchises are “in flux”, such as Avengers, Men In Black, Fast And Furious, James Bond, and even Star Wars, in which they are either ending, indefinitely pausing, or dealing with creative problems. Hollywood desperately needs fresh content for the public. They are running out of comic books to trot out as films. Naysayers say that there is little motivation for movie companies to produce original stories when the old stuff is creating so much profit, in some cases 50-70% of firm’s expenses. Supermodel Liya Kebede’s brand Lemlem is offering Ethiopian craftsmanship that has become very popular, a sustainable approach, while sponsoring her foundation for African women. The Bachelor TV franchise is going to air its first same-sex romance. R.Kelly rep has resigned after a shocking interview. The trailer has been released for the movie in which Tom Hanks plays Mister Rogers.

Hollywood’s (and Wall Street’s) billionaire friend and Palm Beach and NYC resident, Jeffrey Epstein, was denied bond, as a ‘flight risk’. More allegations have arisen, following the charges of sex trafficking. Deutsche Bank reportedly uncovered suspicious transactions in which Epstein moved money out of the US and reported those transactions to a watchdog Federal agency. Epstein had been a longtime client of JPMorgan’s private-banking division from the late 1990s until about 2013, according to the NY Times. He had pleaded guilty to state prostitution charges in 2008. Now, he is being accused of operating a sex-trafficking ring involving dozens of victims, some as young as 14-years-old. There may be other charges coming. Huffington Post reports that Epstein’s New Mexico ranch, known as the Zorro Ranch, has also been linked to sex trafficking. LATEST UPDATE: last night Epstein was found curled up in his jail cell in a fetal position with marks on his neck. Prison guards are not sure whether they were self-inflicted or he had been attacked, but as a precaution, they have put him on suicide watch.

Bindi Irwin is engaged to Chandler Powell. I think Bindi is the late Steve Irwin’s daughter. Lisa Vanderpump has officially quit the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and also did not show up for the 3-part finale. It’s all over some story she leaked to Radar Online about one of the women returning an adopted dog to a shelter, which Lisa denies. She is threatening to take her spinoff Vanderpump Rules to another network, leaving Bravo. Jennifer Lopez celebrated her 50th birthday (around the same time as my birthday) with boyfriend Alex Rodriquez. The years-long feud between Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell has reignited. The late Robin Williams’ youngest son got married on his father’s birthday. Kim Kardashian’s photographer has been accused of sexual misconduct. Darn, I was trying to get through one Repo Commentary without any Kardashian news! The two Little Big Lies women who bribed colleges to admit their children may face jail time. Britney Spears has sparked engagement rumors, after wearing a ring at a premiere. Taylor Swift has dropped a new song, “The Archer”. Adam Levine and Behati Prinsloo returned to Mexico for their 5-year wedding anniversary. Demi Moore is releasing her memoir. The opening for ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, with Brad Pitt and Leonardo di Caprio is getting a lot of hype and rave reviews. It turns out that Quentin Tarantino considered having Tom Cruise play Brad Pitt’s part. Wesley Snipes says he is fine and “it’s all good” about Marvel rebooting the BLADE franchise and having Mahershala Ali taking his part. Valerie Harper’s husband says he won’t put her in Hospice care despite doctors’ advice.

It would have been another disappointing weekend for Hollywood at the box office, if it hadn’t been for another Disney film. It was the first weekend of the last six that managed to top the same weekend of last year. THE LION KING remake with lifelike animals and special effects (sort of both live-action and animated), topped the weekend box office with a record $185 million, surpassing the total gross for the same weekend last year all on its own. Disney had other good news too, as AVENGERS: ENDGAME finally surpassed AVATAR to become the highest grossing worldwide release of all-time. THE LION KING set the record for highest opening weekend for the month of July in history and was the second largest opening of the year so far and seventh largest all-time. The debut was also the largest ever for a PG-rated film. If you were to consider it an “animated film”, then it is the largest opening for an animated film ever, topping INCREDIBLES 2 ($182.6 million). Disney refers to THE LION KING as “Live Action Reimaginings” which somehow sounds like one of the parts of their theme parks. Internationally, this LION KING has taken in another $269 million so far. Okay, enough about the LION KING for now. No.2 at the box-office was SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME, which took in $21 million (total now $320 million), in its 3rd week. No.3 at the box-office was TOY STORY 4, with $14.6 million (total now $375 million and globally $860 million), in its 5th week. It is now the 5th highest worldwide release for Pixar all-time. No.4 at the box office was CRAWL, which made only $6 million, in its 2nd week. No.5 at the box office was YESTERDAY, which made just over $5 million, in its 4th week.

Opening this week in theaters: the widely-anticipated ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, THE GROUND BENEATH MY FEET, HONEYLAND, MIKE WALLACE IS HERE, SEE YOU SOON, and TEL AVIV ON FIRE. I’m still way behind on movies, although catching up slowly through On Demand. I’m currently confused about whether I’ve seen all the DOG’S purpose, way home, life, etc. franchise.

Ad Age did a study of the last 50 years of successful advertising campaigns and found that the most successful were those that dared to be brave and bold.

Technology & Space News:

Riviera Beach, FL, which is adjacent to West Palm Beach, FL and I can see out my window, two weeks ago had a massive cyber attack on the city’s computer systems and decided to pay a $600,000 ransom to get control back of its computer systems. This week, the city was just hacked again. We just celebrated the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s landing on the Moon and Neil Armstrong’s famous one small step and one giant leap. I had to go back to a YouTube video of astronaut Buzz Aldrin punching out a guy who didn’t believe he walked on the Moon and called him “a liar, coward and thief.” Microsoft had impressive earnings and revenue in Q4, announced last week. However, a troubling spot in the earnings report was a 10% annual decline in revenue in its gaming business, with Xbox hardware sales plunging 48% annually. They also mentioned that they were feeling the pressure from lower sales of a comparable third-party software title. That title is believed by analysts to be Epic Games’ FORTNITE, which may be seeing its popularity wane and gamers spending less cash in the free-to-play game that was all the rage in recent years. It’s been a rough year for Facebook, as the social media platform was slapped with two massive fines for the breach of its users’ privacy by allowing Cambridge Analytica to access personal information without consent. The fines came from the FTC and the SEC. Speaking of massive settlements, Equifax, due to the massive data breach it suffered in September 2017 that compromised more data than any other data breach in the world (nearly half the population of the United States, 147 million people), since it is the repository for the most sensitive financial information of the public (Social Security numbers, addresses, credit car and driver’s license information, birthdates, etc.), denied any wrongdoing and there was no judgment or finding of wrongdoing, agreed on Monday to pay a $575-$700 million settlement. The settlement is to compensate US victims of hackers who stole the data from Equifax customers and was negotiated with the FTC. Payments to customers include covering costs to recover from the security breach, the theft of their identity, unauthorized charges to their accounts, and the cost of protecting themselves from future identity theft. The settlement is a little complicated and requires customers to do some work, as it will include a $300 million fund to compensate, $175 million to state and districts affected, $100 million penalty to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and possibly another $125 million if the $300 million isn’t enough. Customers could share in the settlement with free credit-monitoring, identity-theft protection services, cash payments, legal fees, free help recovering from identity theft, or free credit reports for 10 years. A former Equifax executive was sentenced to 4 months in prison for insider trading after the data breach. After the breach, the GAO discovered that 4 US agencies don’t properly verify your data. The EU is urging an alliance with the US to counter Chinese technology dominance. France is planning to use lasers to blind enemy satellites. Tesla posted worse than expected losses. I saw an article that Florida is considering charging owners of hybrid and electric cars a surcharge for using Florida’s roads and not paying their share through gasoline taxes, as they consume less gasoline. That’s crazy! So, people who are doing the right thing by the environment and leaving a smaller carbon footprint are going to be penalized for doing the right thing, AFTER they spent the money for those cars? I guess the state has felt the less infrastructure tax revenue in gasoline sales, and they claim that the infrastructure is a fixed cost that all are using. That’s why they have toll roads. In order to charge people who bought those cars, without toll roads or a way to determine mileage used on Florida roads, they are going to have to charge flat fees for owners of those types of cars, which really doesn’t count usage at all. That’s not fair. Also, it’s not fair for people who bought those cars to save money on gasoline to suddenly have to pay a portion of what they saved for having bought those cars. Dr. Dre (and others) sold Beats to Apple for $600 million. They were burning through startup capital. INSEAD’s annual Global Innovation Index ranks Switzerland as the most innovative country in the world. Sweden, the US, the Netherlands and the UK round out the top five. The FTC announced that it was fining Facebook $5 billion and forcing the social media giant to use new management protocols. There is a 3-part series on PBS called “Ancient Skies” that goes into how humans have viewed space since ancient times. Cybercrime group FIN8 is using new malware, Badhatch, to penetrate networks and scrape credit card information. Badhatch is launched with phishing emails delivering a Microsoft Word document with scripts that install a back door for malware.

US News:

The US debt just hit a record $22 trillion. In June 2018, China owned $1.18 trillion of the US debt and Japan owned $1.03 trillion, about one-third of foreign holdings. President Trump announced that he has struck a Federal budget deal with Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats that would raise Federal spending by $320 billion. Mark Esper was confirmed at US Secretary of Defense. A Department of Justice letter has warned Robert Mueller not to stray from his 448-page Russian election interference report’s written conclusions at his 5-hours of testimony and Q&A in front of 2 House of Representatives committees on Wednesday. A body was found behind a walk-in cooler at a Council Bluffs, Iowa supermarket and it turned out to be an employee who had vanished 10 years ago. He is believed to have fallen from the top of the freezer 12 feet and gotten wedged in an 18-inch gap between the wall and the back of the freezer, near the motors which were very loud. If you thought it would be easy to figure out how much an FBI agent makes, you were wrong. There are 15 grades in the General Schedule and 10 steps within each grade. 16 US Marines were arrested on Thursday for alleged human smuggling and drug charges.

International News:

Iran appears to be forcing things militarily, as it captured 18 men who it says were CIA spys working in Iran and says some or all may be executed, and its commandos captured a British oil tanker, which was simply sailing in international waters. Elsewhere, South Korean jets fire shots at Russian military aircraft. This aerial attack follows the first joint Chinese-Russian long-range air patrol over Asia. Electricity is slowly returning to Venezuela, after a major blackout. The Maduro’s government naturally blamed an “electromagnetic attack” on a dam for the outage. Pressure for change is building in Germany, according to FT. They also say that Syrians in Lebanon are facing mounting hostility. The Governor of Puerto Rico is under major pressure from the public to resign, after a public march of some 1.5 million residents, following reports of widespread corruption in his administration. Ukraine has detained a Russian tanker involved in a naval clash.

Florida:

I am usually singing a National Anthem and doing an Elvis gig each week here in Palm Beach County, FL. If you are interested in seeing more famous bands or solos in concert than my Generation Gap or Elvis Presley performances, there are many acts coming to Florida, perhaps when you will be visiting:

The Temptations-Fort Lauderdale, January 31
Don McLean-Immokalee, January 31
Michael Bolton-Fort Lauderdale, February 2
The Four Tops and the Temptations-West Palm Beach, February 2
Melissa Manchester-Aventura, February 8
Michael Bolton-West Palm Beach, February 8
The Commodores-Miami, February 9
Patti LaBelle-Fort Myers, February 11
Duran Duran-Miami Beach, February 12
Franki Valli & the Four Seasons, Hollywood, February 14
Andrea Bocelli-Miami, February 14
Dave Mason-Fort Lauderdale, February 15
Little River Band-Fort Myers, February 15
Michael Buble-Sunrise, February 16 (I would like to go)
Alan Parsons Project-Fort Lauderdale, February 18
Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes-Bonita Springs, February 20
Art Garfunkel-Fort Lauderdale, February 20
Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20
Sarah Brightman-Hollywood, February 20
PGA Honda Classic-PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, February 28-March 2
Pink-Sunrise-March 1 (it was fantastic!)
Sara Mclachlan-March 1, West Palm Beach
Paul Anka-Fort Lauderdale-March 4
Elton John-Sunrise, March 16
Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band-Sunrise, March 17
Steve Miller Band-Hollywood, March 17
Tony Bennett-Miami, March 21
Palm Beach International Boat Show-West Palm Beach, March 28-March 31
Jackson Browne-West Palm Beach, April 3
Abba The Concert-Miami Beach, April 4
The Rolling Stones-Miami, April 20
Whitesnake-Fort Lauderdale, April 25
Slayer-West Palm Beach, May 11
Rascal Flatts-West Palm Beach, May 23
Ariana Grande-Orlando, May 29
Ozzie Osbourne & Megadeth-Sunrise, May 31
Hootie & the Blowfish-West Palm Beach, June 8
Florence and The Machine-Miami, June 9
Train & Goo Goo Dolls-West Palm Beach, July 6
Hugh Jackman-Sunrise, July 6
Jeff Lynnes’ Electric Light Orchestra-Sunrise, July 9
New Kids on the Block, Salt N Pepa, Naughty by Nature-Sunrise, July 14
Iron Maiden-Sunrise, July 18
Dave Matthews Band-West Palm Beach, July 26
Jennifer Lopez-Miami, July 26
Korn & Alice in Chains-West Palm Beach, July 28
Shawn Mendes-Miami, July 28
Queen & Adam Lambert-Sunrise, August 17
Florida Georgia Line-West Palm Beach, August 29
Peter Frampton-West Palm Beach, September 6
Dane Cook-Fort Lauderdale, September 28

Repo Commentary-6/19/19

imageIMG_3032IMG_3031IMG_3030IMG_3023IMG_3024IMG_3020IMG_3019IMG_3018IMG_3017IMG_3009IMG_2997IMG_2992IMG_2991IMG_2986IMG_2984IMG_2981IMG_2979IMG_2978IMG_2977IMG_2975IMG_2974IMG_2967IMG_2965IMG_2964IMG_2963IMG_2961IMG_2960IMG_2959IMG_2958IMG_2956IMG_2953IMG_2949IMG_2945IMG_2906IMG_2905IMG_2901IMG_2900IMG_2968

I sang my 145th MLB game Thursday night in West Palm Beach. I was also able to interview for jobs, edit the memoir I’ve been ghost-writing, chair a conference, and write some articles. I am still looking to re-enter the Securities Financing Market, so if you hear of anything…

The Repo Commentary was on hiatus for a bit (since 5/17/19). One of the hardest issues in journalism, as a columnist and I were discussing just last week, is when to take the snapshot. Since my Repo Commentary is about a lot of general news, I want to make it the most accurate and most up-to-date information available. The conundrum is that the process of writing takes some time, during which the news or ideas that I am writing about change or evolve. So, you wind up stopping the process, researching the newer news, and editing your piece to include that newer news. But, as you are in that process, other news changes too, maybe even more important news. You could keep updating your piece an infinite number of times, maybe never even be able to punish it. So, you have to pick a window, a snapshot or cutoff day or time. In my case, I have to also resist that ‘trying to catch you up on what happened the last time I wrote’ temptation, which would make the process much longer and make my info much more dated. I have to assume that you have been keeping up yourselves, even without the help of the Repo Commentary. And, just because I have been busy with some other writing and job hunting and interviews, don’t think I haven’t been keeping up with our market. Because I am constantly speaking to potential employers, to customers, and to industry media (probably more than I did when I was selling my product), I have kept up with much of the developments and rumors in the market and may actually know more about what’s going on now than I did then. I actually started this Repo Commentary 5/17, but have come back to it at least 4 times and been pulled away, and have updated it today, 6/18 and 6/19.

My Repo Commentary is posted on my website: http://www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn, the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website, and on CentralBanks.com as an op-ed. I’m hoping to have one up there to entertain you at least each Friday or Monday.

If you need to reach me, my cell is still 646-753-1300, my email for work is jeffkidwell82@gmail.com, and you can also hit me up on LinkedIn. Oddly, in the last two weeks, two other books for ghost-writing have landed in my lap, one will likely be a movie, but I haven’t decided what I want to do about them. I am still very interested in getting back into our Securities Financing industry in some capacity.

Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my former firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information. I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures. Also, please send me feedback, as I want to make it better all the time. I’m trying a new format for historical data, so let me know what you think. As many of you know, it used to be a daily Repo Commentary back in the 80s and for a long time.

06/19 Holidays or Events:

• Day of the Independent Hungary
• Feast of Forest (Palawan)
• Juneteenth
• Labour Day (Trinidad and Tobago)
• Laguna Day (Laguna)
• Never Again Day (Uruguay)
• International World Sickle Cell Day
• Garfield the Cat Day
• National Eat an Oreo Day
• National Martini Day
• National Pets in Film Day
• National FreeBSD Day
• National Watch Day
• World Sauntering Day

Worth noting, Friday, 6/14, was not only Flag Day in the United States (when we adopted our official stars and stripes), but also the 244th Birthday of the US Army, and President Trump’s birthday.

Some Famous People Born 06/19 in History:

• 1301-Prince Morikuni-shogun of Japan
• 1566-James VI and I of the United Kingdom
• 1623-Blaise Pascal-French mathematician and physicist
• 1793-Joseph Earl Sheffield-American businessman and philanthropist
• 1816-William H. Webb-American shipbuilder and philanthropist, founder of the Webb Institute
• 1833-Mary Tenney Gray-American editorial writer, club-woman, philanthropist, and suffragette
• 1843-Mary Sibbet Copley-American philanthropist
• 1877-Charles Coburn-American actor
• 1883-Gladys Mills Phipps, American horse breeder
• 1897-Moe Howard, American comedian (Three Stooges)
• 1902-Guy Lombardo, Canadian-American violinist and bandleader
• 1903-Lou Gehrig, American baseball player
• 1922-Aage Bohr, Danish physicist and academic
• 1928-Tommy DeVito, American singer and guitarist (The Four Seasons)
• 1928-Nancy Marchand, Amerian actress
• 1930-Gena Rowlands, American actress
• 1947-Salman Rushdie, Indian-English novelist and essayist
• 1947-John Ralston Saul, Canadian philosopher and author
• 1948-Phylicia Rashad, American actress
• 1950-Ann Wilson, American singer-songwriter and musician (Heart)
• 1954-Lou Pearlman, American music producer and fraudster
• 1954-Kathleen Turner, American actress
• 1962-Paula Abdul, American singer-songwriter, dancer, actress
• 1972-Brian McBride, American soccer player and coach
• 1972-Robin Tunney, American actress
• 1975-Anthony Parker, American basketball player
• 1976-Anita Wilson, American singer-songwriter and producer
• 1978-Dirk Nowitzki, German basketball player
• 1978-Zoe Saldana, American actress
• 1983-Macklemore, American rapper
• 1988-Jacob deGrom, American baseball player

This Day in History (6/19):

• 325-the original Nicene Creed was adopted at the First Council of Nicaea.
• 1179-the Norwegian Battle of Kalvskinnet outside Nidaros. Earl Erling Skakke is killed and the battle changes the tide of the civil wars.
• 1279-King Louis IX of France orders all Jews found in public without an identifying yellow badge to be fined ten livres of silver.
• 1306-the Earl of Pembroke’s army defeats Bruce’s Scottish army at the Battle of Methven.
• 1586-English colonists leave Roanoke Island, after failing to establish England’s first permanent settlement in North America.
• 1846-the first officially recorded, organized baseball game is played under Alexander Cartwright’s rules on Hoboken, NJ’s Elysian Fields with the New York Base Ball Club defeating the Knickerbockers 23-1. Cartwright umpired.
• 1850-Princess Louise of the Netherlands marries Crown Prince Karl of Sweden-Norway.
• 1862-the US Congress prohibits slavery in United States territories, nullifying Dred Scott v. Sandford.
• 1865-over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, slaves in Galveston, TX are finally informed of their freedom. The anniversary is still officially celebrated in Texas and 41 other contiguous states as Juneteenth.
• 1867-Maximilian I of the Second Mexican Empire is executed by firing squad in Queretaro.
• 1875-the Herzegovinian rebellion against the Ottoman Empire begins.
• 1903-Benito Mussolini, then a radical Socialist, is arrested by Bern police for advocating a violent general strike.
• 1910-the first Father’s Day is celebrated in Spokane, WA.
• 1915-the USS Arizona is launched. It sank during the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941 and is where the Pearl Harbor memorial museum is located.
• 1934-the Communications Act of 1934 establishes the US FCC.
• 1943-the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL merge for one season, due to player shortages caused by WWII.
• 1944-WWII: the first day of the Battle of the Philippine Sea.
• 1949-the first ever NASCAR race was held at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
• 1953-Cold War: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are executed at Sing Sing, in New York.
• 1961-Kuwait declares independence from the United Kingdom.
• 1964-the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is approved after surviving an 83-day filibuster in the US Senate.
• 1978-“Garfield”, holder of the Guinness World Record for the world’s most widely syndicated comic strip, makes its debut.
• 1990-the current international law defending indigenous peoples, Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention 1989, is ratified for the first time by Norway.
• 1990-the Communist party of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic is founded in Moscow.
• 1991-the Soviet occupation of Hungary ends.
• 2007-the al-Khilani Mosque bombing in Baghdad leaves 78 people dead and another 218 injured.
• 2009-mass riots involving over 10,000 people and 10,000 police officers break out in Shishou, China, over the dubious circumstances surrounding the death of a local chef.
• 2009-War in Northwest Pakistan: the Pakistani Armed Forces open Operation Rah-e-Nijat against the Taliban and other Islamist rebels in the South Waziristan area of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
• 2012-WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, requested asylum in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy for fear of extradition to the US after publication of previously classified documents including footage of civilian killings by the US Army.
• 2018-the ten millionth United State Patent is issued.

Daily Weird Facts:

Looking at cute animal pictures at work can make you more productive, a recent study claims. (that’s where my Commentary comes in!)

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“If everybody likes you, you’re pretty dull.”—Bette Davis

Currency and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices closed at:

$74.34/barrel on 10/5
$47.66/barrel on 12/23
$48.63 on 01/07
$52.31/barrel on 01/16
$55.26/barrel on 2/3
$55.41/barrel on 2/26
$73.77/barrel on 4/29
$63.28/barrel on 5/17
$54.07/barrel on 6/18

President Trump announced that he would bring Iranian oil exports down to ZERO. He intends to end sanction waivers that had previously allowed 8 countries to purchase crude from Iran. The news shot oil prices up to their highest level since November 2018, when President Trump had thanked Saudi Arabia for bringing oil prices down to $54/barrel.

Now, with OPEC having met without Iran, and American foreign policy crises in Venezuela, Iran, and Libya, oil prices have been again surging higher. Ironically, Saudi Arabia needs oil prices to be higher than $80/barrel, in order for it to balance its budget. Despite the rise of renewable energy and natural gas, coal is still king in 18 US state for power and jobs.

The price of gasoline at my new West Palm Beach station has dropped to $2.09/gallon. Most of the other stations in the area are 10-30 cents more per gallon.

One USD versus the Yen was trading at (these are all Repo Commentary dates):

112.20 on 12/24
108.60 on 01/07
109.07 on 01/16
103.18 on 02/03
104.86 on 2/25
103.86 on 5/17
102.59 on 6/18

One Euro was trading on:

12/24 at $1.1426
01/07 at $1.1478
01/16 at $1.1396
02/03 at $1.2047
02/25 at $1.1955
05/17 at $1.1761
06/18 at $1.1825

One British Pound was trading on:

12/24 at $1.2655
01/07 at $1.2770
01/16 at $1.2880
02/03 at $1.3758
02/25 at $1.3728
05/17 at $1.3427
06/18 at $1.3157

One USD versus the CAD at:

1.3442 on 12/24
1.3297 on 01/07
1.3255 on 01/16
1.2492 on 2/03
1.2492 on 2/25
1.2800 on 5/17
1.2740 on 6/18

Gold closed on 5/17 at $1275.90/ounce. Yesterday, it closed at $1350.10/ounce.

Bitcoin was trading at (Repo Commentary Dates):

$8,185.21 on 7/25
$6,350 on 10/5
$3,774.97 on 12/24
$3,7774.97 on 01/07
$3,598.90 on 01/16
$3,421.10 on 02/06
$3,826.44 on 02/26
$8,100.00 on 05/16
$7,215.79 on 05/17
$9,088.59 on 06/18

It has rebounded dramatically, although certainly not to its $19,000 highs.

The federal government on Tuesday reapproved the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, a crude-oil export project that has pitted Alberta against the British Columbia government and oil industry supporters against environmentalists and Indigenous opponents… The Prime Minister said Trans Mountain Corp. told him it expects to begin construction this summer, although government officials said it could take several months for the federally owned company to get the permits and contracts that are needed to begin installing the pipe. The officials were granted anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the issue. The Globe and Mail

“OPEC+ Sets Date for Meeting, Ending a Month of Bickering: OPEC+ agreed to hold its next meeting to discuss oil-output cuts on the first two days of July, resolving a monthlong dispute that highlighted divisions within the group.” Bloomberg

Global Financial News:

Facebook is planning its own currency for more than 2 billion users. European leaders are reacting with alarm to this plan for a cryptocurrency, Libra. France’s FM said Libra must not “become a sovereign currency.” A German member of the European Parliament warned that Facebook could then become a “shadow bank”. Ah, there’s the endearing term I haven’t heard in a while! Bloomberg says that women are hardly represented in the clean energy workforce, despite it having some of the highest-growth industries in the US economy. International Renewable Energy Agency did a study which found that women make up 45% of administrative jobs, but only 28% of engineering and science jobs, a sign of more wage disparity. Bloomberg says that this is another sign that boys, more than girls, are encouraged “to study science, technology and engineering.” Today, the first issue of ISLA Daily came out, also distributed at the ISLA Securities Finance and Collateral Management Conference in Madrid this week. The conference co-chairs are Gilly Meth (my former colleague at Morgan Stanley Europe) and James Templeman. The issue also includes articles by HQLA, DTCC, and Comyno. Huwei is bracing for a $30 billion hit to revenue this year and next, as US sanctions kick in. According to Bloomberg, the Chinese telecom giant is bracing for a 40-60% drop in global smartphone shipments and has canceled the launch of its new laptop, due to US restrictions imposed by the Trump administration. 30 years after going public on the NYSE, Sotheby’s has been privately auctioned for almost $4 billion. It was acquired by BidFair USA, owned by telecoms entrepreneur and art collector, Patrick Drahi. Sotheby’s still ranks No.2 to Christie’s in worldwide revenue. A Bloomberg survey found that almost 50% of students at the top business schools around the world have borrowed at least $100,000 to finance their MBAs. Student loans continue to be the fastest growing segment of consumer debt in the US. In a recent survey, almost 50% of Americans say their financial situation hasn’t improved since the Great Recession. China is rolling out the red carpet for other countries, just as it increases tariffs on US goods. The US and China have reopened trade talks ahead of the G-20 meeting in Japan. There is report this morning that market participants need clarification from US government agencies on the regulatory, tax and accounting treatment of switching existing derivatives contracts from Libor to other interest rate benchmarks. Sovereign bond yields have turned negative and record lows, after the ECB signaled it might cut interest rates at a July policy meeting. The 10-year German bund is already down to -0.32% and the 30-year Swiss bond dropped to below 0%. Volatility for Asian tech stocks has surged by 300%. The SEC is taking public comment on its system for exempting securities from registration and how that system could be improved.

US Market News:

A boom in employee bonuses handed out by some companies in the wake of the 2017 tax cuts appear to have been temporary, according to Labor Department data released yesterday. Employee bonuses contracted 24% in Q1 2019, the most since 2005. One bright spot is that companies increased spending on vacation and other paid time off by 3.3%, the most of any benefit category. This news, along with falling business orders and slower hiring, are making some prognosticators believe that the US economy is cooling and may enter a recession. Another scary sign comes in a survey of Americans, 29% of whom say they have more credit card debt than emergency funds, up 8% from 2018. A recent BOA/Merrill Lynch survey shows fund managers are turning bearish on equities.

5/17 marked the anniversary of the creation of the New York Stock Exchange in 1792.

The Dow Jones has been on a roller coaster ride for more than six months, affected by geo-political upheaval, US political investigations, global tariffs, and, naturally, company earnings reports. It peaked in September, then plummeted, nearly to Bear market 20% extent in December, rallied sharply in the first quarter, drifted lower in the second quarter, and has been struggled in May to recover. But, now it’s back near the September/October highs.

The Dow Jones closed at (Repo Commentary Dates):

26,656.77 on 9/20/18
26,447.05 on 10/5/18
21,792.20 on 12/23/18
21,712.53 on 12/26/18
24,207.16 on 01/16/19
25,063.89 on 2/06/19
26,106.47 on 2/25/19
25,862.68 on 5/16/19, up over 240 points
26,465.54 on 6/18/19

S&P 500 also gave up its all-time high on 9/20/18 of 2,930.66, closing on:

10/5/18 at 2,885.58
12/26/18 at 2,467.70
01/07/19 at 2,549.69
01/16/19 at 2,616.10
02/06/19 at 2,706.53
02/25/19 at 2,799.34
05/16/19 at 2,876.32
06/18/19 at 2,917.75, now right at the 9/20/18 high

Nasdaq too gave up its 8/28/18 high of 8,030.04, closing on:

10/5/18 at 7,788.45
12/26/18 at 6,554.36
01/07/19 at 6,823.47
01/16/19 at 7,034.70
02/06/19 at 7,263.87
02/25/19 at 7,561.87
05/16/19 at 7,898.05
06/18/19 at 7,953.68, right there near that 8/28 high again

US Treasury yields had gotten much higher on 9/20/18, in advance of the 9/26 FOMC meeting, rose still higher after the meeting and then plummeted with the drop in Equities, and have continued to drop and even invert since. They have actually plummeted in the last month, due to more talk of Fed rate CUTS, rather than Fed rate HIKES. What did you guys do to yields? I turn my head away for a month and you took them down 35bp!

2 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 2.88%
12/18/18 at 2.65%
01/07/19 at 2.53%
01/16/19 at 2.55%
02/06/19 at 2.52%
02/22/19 at 2.48%
05/16/19 at 2.20%
06/18/19 at 1.86%

3 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 2.99%
12/18/18 at 2.64%
01/07/19 at 2.47% (inverted to 2years)
01/16/19 at 2.53%
02/06/19 at 2.50%
02/22/19 at 2.46%
05/16/19 at 2.15%
06/18/19 at 1.80%

5 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.07%
12/18/18 at 2.65%
01/07/19 at 2.49%
01/16/19 at 2.54%
02/06/19 at 2.51%
02/22/19 at 2.47%
05/16/19 at 2.18%
06/18/19 at 1.83%

7 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.18%
12/18/18 at 2.74%
01/07/19 at 2.60%
01/16/19 at 2.62%
02/06/19 at 2.59%
02/22/19 at 2.55%
05/16/19 at 2.28%
06/18/19 at 1.93%

10 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.23%
12/18/18 at 2.82%
01/07/19 at 2.70%
01/16/19 at 2.73%
02/06/19 at 2.70%
02/22/19 at 2.65%
05/16/19 at 2.40%
06/18/19 at 2.06%

30 YEAR BONDS closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.40%
12/18/18 at 3.07%
01/07/19 at 2.99%
01/16/19 at 3.07%
02/06/19 at 3.03%
02/22/19 at 3.02%
05/16/19 at 2.84%
06/18/19 at 2.55%

Housing News:

US housing starts declined in May, but not by as much as expected. California is in the midst of a housing crisis. Google said it will commit $1 billion to try to provide more affordable housing in the San Francisco Bay Area, where big tech firms have been blamed for putting home prices way out of reach for most people. Zillow says that new low interest rates/mortgage rates (the lowest in about 18 months) could bring buyers back to housing. New federal tax rules are creating an advantage for REITs. Homebuilder sentiment has dipped, despite the increase in demand for single-family homes. Mortgage lender Quicken Loans says it has seen record loan volumes. Housing experts expect remodeling spending to slow. Here’s a sign of the times, as home flippers are hiring Uber and Lyft drivers to scout out potential properties.

Real estate agents in Vancouver have noticed something unusual in the past few weeks. For the first time in recent memory, the number of Hong Kong Chinese attending open-house showings has exceeded that of mainland Chinese buyers, who have been a visible presence in the city’s real estate market over the past decade. The people arriving at home showings in Vancouver offer a vivid example of the global dislocations under way as Hong Kong finds itself newly immersed in fear that its unique status under China’s one-country, two-systems framework is under threat. The Globe and Mail

Repo News:

I hear there may be some upcoming consolidation in the financial industry conference space, as some firms are trimming sponsorship and there are a lot of conferences. Meanwhile, there has been considerable movement in the all-to-all, peer-to-peer, CCP, electronic platform space for Repo & Securities Lending. One firm has been going gangbusters on Total Return Swaps for their electronic platform, another has had to lay of some people, another electronic platform shut down its London effort and trimmed US marketing, Sponsored Repo is reportedly running into a constraint of now some $100 billion in CCLF charges, while one electronic platform is rumored to be having issues, and another one has suddenly popped up for collateralized loans. Meanwhile, peer-to-peer between the insurance companies and money funds is increasing, and peer-to-peer within the pension fund peer group and within the hedge fund peer group may be gaining some traction.

I was honored 6/5/19 by Global Investor/ISF Magazine to be interviewed and included in their massive “Securities Finance Americas Guide 2019” on pages 60-61. Their link is: https://www.globalinvestorgroup.com/articles/3692602/americas-securities-finance-guide-2019. 
I’m fortunate to have been included. I believe they ran an article online about my thoughts also on 6/15/19 on their website.

Let’s look forward in the regulatory crystal ball for the rest of 2019. So, after the Financial Crisis, and over 350 financial regulations initiated by Dodd-Frank, FSOC, FSB, G20, and other regulators, it seemed that things had cooled down on the regulatory front. But, things are heating up again. We just experienced the implementation of MiFID II and we have SFTR ahead of us to implement. SFTR, if you don’t know, is the FSB’s attempt again to address the elusive Shadow Banking, among other things. Most of the other regulatory initiatives now on the table to implement are related to Basel III and the completion of three major European projects: the Banking Union, the Capital Markets Union, and the Digital Single Market. We are also still addressing LIBOR replacement (particularly in the US with the development of SOFR) and reform of Euribor and Eonia reference indices (which the EU just decided to put off for 2 years). Of course, there is always fintech stuff to deal with and to regulate and, lest we forget, there is the mess of Brexit (or now potential for Brelay or Bremain). Financial regulation in 2008-2012 had a very unified global approach. But, that seems to have declined since, and jurisdictional differences are rearing up and making implementation more complicated. While the Banking Package in Europe has come along way regarding what are prudential measures and how to share risks in the banking industry for recovery and resolution, including backstop plans by the ECB and the EC, there has been little progress made on the Banking Union, except to establish a Single Resolution Fund through the ESM, but no agreement on the EDIS. Likewise, the Capital Markets Union effort has seen only small progress. Lastly, while the industry in 2018 saw consolidation of the digitalization of the financial sector, there has been no concrete regulatory framework negotiated to deal with the growing change. Plus, we still have that EU Reform deadline coming up 3/31, as iMoneyNet reminds me. So, until further notice, the Legal and Risk departments remain in charge.

I still see the Repo and Securities Lending market as having changed in many permanent ways. We traditionally had a credit intermediator, the broker/dealers (originally just the primary broker/dealers) and later prime brokers, who were the pipeline through their respective repo matched books for collateral providers to trade with cash providers, without the two sides ever knowing about each other or facing each other. That lack of knowledge of the other side of the repo matched book came at a couple of costs, first, the bid/offer spread that went to the dealers and second, the defaults of the Financial Crisis and the impact on some of the dealers that then cost their clients. Not knowing who the other clients were and who could bring down the intermediary dealers was costly for many clients. Clearly, with that pipeline of intermediation becoming severely crimped by post-Financial Crisis regulatory reforms, consolidation and bankruptcies, and the resulting drop of about 60% in balance sheets being used for broker/dealer respective repo matched books, new pathways/pipelines needed to be found for cash provider and collateral provider clients. My former baby, AVM’s Direct Repo™, was the first of one of such pathways. Since then, other pathways to these markets have been created, including: the Federal Reserve’s RRP program with cash providers, peer-to-peer financing as reported on Treasury OFR’s website between MMFs and Insurance Companies, As Agented repo through seclending agents and now some prime brokers to buyside clients, direct lending from beneficial owners to hedge funds who are short via their agents, indemnified As Agent repo, buyside to buyside Triparty Repo through two international clearing organizations of their custodial clients, electronic all-to-all repo on a few electronic trading platforms like (Elixium, BNY DBVX, State Street’s Cash Cross), FICC’s sponsored repo and cleared repo products for certain sectors of the buyside into that CCP, dealer to dealer and some clients electronic trading platforms (like GLMX, HQLA, and Tradeweb), other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (particularly in Europe, like Eurex, LCH, OCC, CME, etc.), total return swaps platforms (like WeMatch.com), and collateralized loan exchange AFX/CBOE. I believe this evolution will continue and eventually we will see all of these pathways used, including the traditional pathway (to probably a lesser than historical degree) through the broker/dealers and prime brokers. Some of that balance sheet has returned, as I mentioned above, but may be for only select ‘platinum’ clients and may come at a higher bid/offer spread or in specific, more profitable products/securities.

Securities Finance Industry Conferences:
 

• Deutsche Borse/Clearstream held its annual conference this week in Luxembourg, which I attended last year.
• IMN 25th Beneficial Owners International Securities Finance and Collateral Management Conference was held in Fort Lauderdale, FL on 2/5-2/6. I was chosen as the Chairperson.
• Finadium held a new conference on the Business of Collateral Trading in Frankfurt, Germany on 2/21.
• IMN held its annual Fixed Income Investor Network in Las Vegas on 2/24.
• iMoneyNet held its annual MMExpo in Middleburg, VA 3/4-3/6.
• PASLA/RMA held its 16th annual Conference on Asian Securities Lending in Sydney, Australia 3/5-3/7.
• GIOA held its 15th annual conference in Las Vegas 3/20-3/22.
• Crane Data held its annual Bond Fund Symposium in Philadelphia on 3/25-3/26.
• Finadium held its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference in NYC on 5/2-5/3.
• GFOA held its 113th annual conference in Los Angeles on 5/19-5/22.
• Securities Lending Times held its annual Securities Finance Technology Symposium in London on 5/9.
• IMN held its annual Global ABS conference in Barcelona, Spain on 6/11-6/13.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income Leaders USA Summit in Philadelphia, PA on 6/18-6/20.
• ISLA is holding its Securities Finance and Collateral Management conference in Madrid this week.
• Crane Data will hold its annual Money Fund Symposium on 6/24-6/26 in Boston.
• Hedge Fund Association is holding its Rooftop Social in NYC on 6/27.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income & FX Leader Summit in Singapore on 9/17-9/19.
• IMN will hold its annual ABS East conference in Miami Beach, FL on 9/22-9/24.
• Crane Data will hold its annual European Money Fund Symposium in Dublin, Ireland on 9/23-24.
• Finadium will hold its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference Europe in London on 9/24.
• National Association of State Treasurers will hold its annual conference in Naples, FL on 10/6-10/9.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its Fixed Income Leaders conference in Barcelona on 10/7-10/9.
• RMA will hold its 37th annual Conference on Securities Finance and Collateral Management in Boca Raton, FL on October 14-17, as they just announced.
• American Financial Professionals (AFP) will hold its annual conference in Boston, MA on 10/20-10/23.
• Risk.net will hold its 25th annual Risk USA conference in NYC in November.
• SIFMA will hold its annual Meeting in Washington, DC on 11/18-11/20.

Federal Reserve News:

The Fed Funds rate, which is still the target rate of Federal Reserve monetary policy and changes to which are made by and announced by the FOMC at regularly scheduled meetings, is currently set at 2.50%. However, the Effective Fed Funds Rate (EFFR), as reported by the NY Fed on its website, is only 2.39% as of 5/16/19.. it has drifted lower, averaging about 12bp below the actual target rate.. Now, Fed Funds don’t TRADE much like they used to, just between some regional banks and GSEs.

The Overnight Bank Funding Rate (OBFR), also published by the NY Fed to capture the volume-weighted median of overnight federal funds transactions, Eurodollar transactions, and the domestic deposits reported by banks. That rate on 5/16/19 was 2.38% and has been very constant throughout this month.

The Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) is supposed to be a broad measure of the cost of borrowing cash overnight collateralized by US Treasury securities. It is also reported by the NY Fed on its website. It has been controversial and has been considered as a possibly replacement for LIBOR. SOFR includes trades in the Broad General Collateral Rate of Repo plus bilateral Treasury Repo transactions cleared through the DVP services at CCP FICC, ostensibly filtering out issues trading Special. However, critics (and I am one) say that it only picks up the Offered Side of Repo (not a median), that it only picks up the small amount of DVP transactions cleared at FICC and Triparty Repo done at Bank of NY, ignoring the growing amount of bilateral (non-Triparty) repo being done peer-to-peer, dealer-to-dealer, and client-to-dealer, outside of FICC. It is a good representation of where Money Funds (except for a few savvy ones who trade peer-to-peer) are paid on their cash versus US Treasuries in Repo each day by broker/dealers. It almost completely ignores other sectors, particularly buyside clients with collateral. That all being said, the current SOFR reported by the Fed for 05/16/19 was 2.43%.

The next FOMC meetings are: 6/19/19 (today), 7/31/19, 9/18/19, 10/30/19, 12/11/19, 1/29/20.

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (mostly banks, GSEs, and MMFs) is used as a tool by the Federal Reserve, along with its Fed Funds target-setting monetary policy, and OER for depository institutions, to help control short-term interest rates. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight. Remember when RRP was trading at year-end for $465 billion? Well, on 5/15/19, there was only $20 million in bids submitted. MMF cash and GSE cash has moved out of the Fed’s RRP and into the Repo market. So, if RRP is not extinct, it is certainly now dormant, occasionally coming out of hibernation for year-ends and quarter-ends, when liquidity becomes very strange.

So, last I wrote in the Repo Commentary, according to FOMC members, the Federal Reserve signaled that it would raise the benchmark Fed Funds rate to 2.50% at the December FOMC meeting, 3.00% in 2019, and 3.50% in 2020. If you are keeping score, the Federal Reserve raised the Fed Funds target rate on these dates so far:

12/15/15 to 0.50%
12/14/16 to 0.75%
3/5/17 to 1.00%
6/14/17 to 1.25%
12/13/17 to 1.50%
3/21/18 to 1.75%
6/13/18 to 2.00%
9/26/18 to 2.25%
12/13/18 to 2.50%

Quantitative Easing was ‘tapered off’ in 2013. The Fed still had $4 trillion of debt in 2017 on its books from that QE. In October 2017, it began allowing those holdings to gradually decline. For fun, the Fed Funds target rate was 5.25% before the Fed cut of 9/18/2007.

Well, things have done a 180-degree turn since I last wrote. Now, folks in the market, over the last couple of months, have been talking more about when the Federal Reserve is going to CUT interest rates, rather than RAISE them again. The WSJ reports that investment banks remain skeptical that the Federal Reserve will reduce interest rates this summer, despite the markets having priced one 25bp cut in. We will all be waiting to see what the FOMC does this afternoon and maybe, more importantly, what it says in the press conference. There is talk that we may get more information on plans for a new repo facility, designed to address episodes of upward pressure on the effective Fed Funds rate. Up to now, the Fed was just changing the IOER relative to the target Fed Funds rate, to smooth these episodes. But, IOER used to sit 25bp above the upper rate of the range and now it sits 15bp below that upper rate.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

A magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck Sichuan Province near Changning, China on 6/17/19, where the homes are mostly unreinforced brick with mud and adobe block construction. Latest strong earthquakes (4.5 magnitude and above):

5.3 6/18 198km ESE of Tadine, New Caledonia
4.6 6/18 77km W of Nikol’skoye, Russia
5.2 6/18 132km NE of L’Esperance Rock, New Zealand
5.4 6/18 128km E of L’Esperance Rock, New Zealand
4.5 6/18 16km ESE of Pamandzi, Mayotte
4.8 6/18 49km W of Sardinal, Costa Rica
4.9 6/18 48km W of Sardinal, Costa Rica
5.9 6/18 135km ENE of L’Esperance Rock, New Zealand
4.5 6/18 37km NNW of Murakami, Japan
4.9 6/18 267km W of Saumlaki, Indonesia
6.4 6/18 31km WSW of Tsuruoka, Japan
4.7 6/18 SE of Easter Island
4.8 6/18 8km NE of Sambelia, Indonesia
4.9 6/18 255km SSE of L’Esperance Rock, New Zealand
5.5 6/18 South of the Fiji Islands
5.1 6/18 121 ENE of L’Esperance Rock, New Zealand
4.6 6/18 84km WNW of San Antonio de los Cobres, Argentina
5.1 6/18 165km ENE of L’Esperance Rock, New Zealand

Weather:

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began June 1st and ends November 30th. For 2018, Colorado State University experts had predicted an above average season of 14 named Tropical Storms, of which 7 would become Hurricanes. Both are above the averages of 12 and 6, respectively. But, there were 15 named Tropical Storms, of which 8 were hurricanes, and 2 of them major. So, they were wrong, but this time, not in a good way.

Hurricane officials are warning Floridians to prepare in advance of the upcoming storm season. There are several national meteorological services and scientific agencies that forecast how many named storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes (above Category 3). TSR, CSU, and The Weather Company were similar numbers, while NCU was higher. CSU has been the most used and they forecast for 2019 a near-average season of 13 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes.

The Hurricane names for the 2019 North Atlantic season are:

Andrea
Barry
Chantal
Dorian
Erin
Fernand
Gabrielle
Humberto
Imelda
Jerry
Karen
Lorenzo
Melissa
Nestor
Olga
Pablo
Rebekah
Sebastian
Tanya
Van
Wendy

The Pacific Hurricane Season started 5/1/18 and ends 11/1/18.

There are currently no tropical cyclone activity expected during the next 48 hours in Atlantic or Pacific. As for the weather, the US has been dealing with huge storms, flooding, hail, tornadoes, and very whacky temperatures. There was snow in Denver in May. The Mid-Atlantic, while I was up in North Carolina, got an unprecedented May heat wave, sending temperatures above 100 degrees in some areas. The threat for severe weather and flash flooding continues for several areas in the US, particularly Kansas, Texas, and the Mid-Atlantic. Since May, Florida has been getting daily rain late in the day and extreme heat and humidity, with temperatures in the 90s and daily heat indices between 100 and 110. The thunderstorms have been intense with many lightning strikes and low lightning. One motorcyclist last week was hit by lightning and killed, while riding on I-95 near West Palm Beach, FL. Also, in WPB, you can read about the giraffes below. Today will likely be the hottest day of the year so far in Oklahoma, NYC, and Chicago.

Sports News:

MLB:

Is was hard to get into baseball, with the NBA and NHL FINALS still going, almost to mid-June. Now, that that’s over, we can focus on baseball (and soccer, golf, and tennis). Of course, the other issue is that the MLB season goes from March until November and 162 regular season games, so you still won’t miss much. The MLB regular season began 3/28 this year and the 2018 World Series Champion Red Sox did not start well, in last place, fumbling to a 2-12 record out of the gate. Technically, the current season began on 3/20-3/21, when the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics played each other in Tokyo. The Boston Red Sox will play the Yankees in London, for the first-ever MLB games in Europe, on 6/29-6/30.

Anyway, back to the Red Sox and Yankees, both teams started out poorly, but both have recovered. They are now both playing above .500, but the Yankees have soared to first place, while the Red Sox seem to be having a hard time catching them. What is not different is that the Orioles are already occupying the cellar of the AL East, having mortgaged their present for their future, dumping all of their star players, except slugger Chris Davis, and I still can’t figure that one out. Another team that is no surprise to be in the cellar, for exactly the same reasons, is the Marlins. Granted, we are early in the season, only about 71-74 games in or roughly 45%. Still, there are some trends that are re-emerging and some new surprises due to aggressive free agency work. In the AL East: the Yankees started out rough, lost several key sluggers to injuries, but righted the ship and are in first place, 17 over .500, 1 ½ games ahead the Rays, followed by the Red Sox 5 1/2 games back. The Orioles are a dismal 21-51, 23 ½ games back of the Yanks. In the AL Central: the Twins have tenaciously held on to first place, despite a charge by the Indians, who are 10 games back now and without key ingredients. The White Sox started out strong, but have faded to 12 ½ games back. The cellar here is occupied by the Royals, who are also a stellar 24-48 and 23 ½ games back. In the AL West: the Astros are back in their familiar spot, in first place, leading the resurgent Rangers by 8 ½ games. The A’s, after their super strong start, have faded to 11 games back, and Mariners who started the season on fire, look smoked at 31-45 in the cellar by 18 ½ games. In the NL East: the Phillies free agency and trades seemed to have paid off, as they went from near worst to first, however, they are now 3 games behind the surging Braves, who are 8 1/2 games ahead of the Mets and 9 games ahead of the Nats. The only non-surprise is that the Marlins are in last place, with a 25-45 record and 16 1/2 games back. In the NL Central: the Cubs finally made it to first place, now securing the help of closer ace Craig Kimbrel (formerly of the Red Sox), but then fell a half game behind the red-hot Brewers. The Brewers lead the surging Cardinals by only 2 ½ games, the Reds by 7 games, and the Pirates by 7 ½ games. This is again a close division! Lastly, in the AL West: the Dodgers did a lot of work offseason in trades and free agency, which paid off putting the losing World Series team in 2018 back in first place with a scorching 23 games over .500 best record, 10 games ahead of the Rockies and the Diamondbacks. The Giants are in last place again.

Well, the MLB had their Draft Day. 2019 MLB All-Star Game voting is open. Red Sox star 2B Dustin Pedroia barely played a game and is back on the DL with that tricky knee that sidelined him all season last year. He has decided to take a leave from the team. I fear his playing days are over. He’s had a great, albeit short career, with an MVP, 3 World Series rings, Silver Sluggers, and Gold Gloves, but his body betrayed him. The Nationals made history with 4 consecutive HRs on 7 pitches against the Padres. It was the second time in less than 2 years that the Nationals had done that. It’s only happened 9 times in MLB history and Nats have done it twice. In contrast, to show you how rare it is, there have been 23 perfect games and 15 unassisted triple plays (I just watched a montage of the latter feat). Speaking of HRs, the Twins just clubbed 4 on Sunday, routing the Mariners 12-2, and on pace for the season HR record. The season record, set just last year by the Yankees, is 267 HRs. The Twins are on pace for 316. The Yankees have spoken to the Blue Jays about Marcus Stroman. Red Sox former legend, David Ortiz, was shot in the back during at a bar Sunday night, by a motorcyclist (part of 6 people that allegedly were involved in the assassination attempt), in his home country, the Dominican Republic, and is in stable condition. The bullet did not hit any vital organs, but it did injure his liver and gall bladder and did force him to have surgery on his colon. He is expected to make a “full recovery” and the Red Sox sent down their team plane to pick him up and fly him to Boston for further treatment. David Ortiz’s condition was upgraded to “Good” on Tuesday. Prosecutors are set to reveal the motive and the plot. Nationals ace, Max Scherzer, was taken to the locker room on Tuesday, after bunting a ball off his face in batting practice. Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton has been activated from the DL after a shoulder injury. The MLB Umpires Association has released an bizarre Twitter statement on Padres’ Manny Machado’s one-game suspension, which used 12 different hashtags to protest his contact with an umpire over balls and strikes and violently throwing his bat against the backstop. Somehow, the MLBUA made it “violence in the workplace” and with “absolutely no regard to anyone’s safety.” 36-year-old Edwin Encarnacion made his Yankees debut on Monday night, two days after being traded from the Mariners. The Yankees demoted Clint Frazier to make room. Dallas Keuchel, the Braves new starter, who signed a one-year deal worth $13 million, is expected to start this week, after 8 months on the free-agent market and not appearing in a game since last October for the Astros. Gary Cohen announced his 2,000th Mets TV game. The Nationals say they are not thinking about trade Max Scherzer “right now”. The Cubs are considering opening a sportsbook at Wrigley Field. The Angels are about to activate slugger Justin Upton, who will make his season debut. The Blue Jays hit a season high 5 HRs in 12-0 win over the Astros. Cubs starter Yu Darvish makes his first start at Dodger Stadium since the four losses he pitched in the World Series for the Dodgers and the veteran players are urging the fans to not boo him. Two baseball teams, the White Sox (Guaranteed Rate Field) and the Astros, are intending to put up more measures to protect fans from serious injury at games, particularly extending safety netting to the foul poles. MLB in 2005 recommended that teams extend netting to the end of the dugouts by 2018, and all 30 teams complied. There have been many fans in recent years that have been injured or killed by foul balls or flying bats. Most recently, a young girl was struck by a foul in May in Houston, just beyond the dugout, and a woman was hit by a foul on 6/10 in Chicago and died. In 2017, three different fans were hit by a broken bat, 105-mph foul ball, and another 105-mph foul ball, all at Yankee Stadium.

The MLB announced the class of the six 2019 inductees into the Hall of Fame and they are: Harold Baines, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez (finally), Mike Mussina, Mariano Rivera, and Lee Smith. The ceremony will be on 7/21 in Cooperstown, NY. Baines and Smith were elected to the Hall of Fame by the Today’s Game Era Committee. Baines, an ESPN analyst, will go in as a White Sox, Halladay will go in without a logo, Martinez will go in as a Mariner (kind of insuring that his fellow DH, David Ortiz, will make it too), Mussina will go in without a logo (I’m surprised), Rivera (the greatest reliever of all-time) will go in as a Yankee, and Smith (one of the greatest relievers of all-time) will go in as a Cub.

Golf:

Tiger Woods has been the main topic this season, like the old days, in his remarkable comeback, moving up from No.668 world ranking in 2018, to No.6 as he played at the PGA Championship at Bethpage. He won a tournament, then won an improbably 5th Masters Tournament at Augusta (15th Major), and has had several top 10 finishes this year. He played just okay at this weekend’s 3rd major, the US Open at Pebble Beach, where his pal, Phil Mickelson, still hasn’t one (the only Major Phil hasn’t won). Brooks Koepka, the defending US Open champion, tried to become the only golfer to win 3 US Opens in a row, and was in the hunt, but came up short to Gary Woodland. Gary put an exclamation point on his victory, by making a long birdie putt on the 18th hole to win by 3 strokes. His caddie, Brennan Little, celebrated his second major win. Also celebrating was his super-fan buddy Amy Bockerstette. In second place in the US Open was Justin Rose. Amateur Viktor Hovland broke Jack Nicklaus’ US Open scoring record as an amateur, with a 4-under total of 280 over 72 holesA record for tour victories with 9.

NCAA Basketball:

The college basketball season closed out in March, with my Michigan State Spartans just missing a National title and coming in third. They lost to Texas Tech, who then lost to Virginia. Virginia had beaten Auburn to get to the Finals. Here is the AP Final Poll:

1. Virginia (35-3)
2. Texas Tech (31-7)
3. Michigan State (32-7)
4. Duke (32-6)
5. Auburn (30-10
6. Gonzaga (33-4)
7. Kentucky (30-7)
8. Purdue (26-10)
9. North Carolina (29-7)
10. Tennessee (31-6)
11. Michigan (30-7)
12. Houston (33-4)
13. FSU (29-8)
14. Virginia Tech (26-9)
15. LSU (28-7)
16. Kansas (26-10)
17. Buffalo (32-4)
18. Wofford (30-5)
19. Kansas State (25-9)
20. Villanova (26-10)
21. Oregon (25-13)
22. Maryland (23-11)
23. Nevada (29-5)
24. Wisconsin (23-11)
25. Iowa State (23-12)

NFL:

The 99th NFL regular season ended with the New England Patriots beating the Los Angeles Rams in a defensive battle 13-3 in the Super Bowl. It was QB Tom Brady’s 6th Super Bowl victory. Saints’ Ted Ginn says he will race anyone for $10,000. 49-year-old Brett Favre says he is coming out of retirement and returning to NFL play. Social media isn’t buying it though. He did retire after the 2007 season only to “unretired” and play 3 more seasons, before walking away at age 41. John Fox said the Bears have had the NFL’s worst offseason. Trainer has confirmed that Rams’ Todd Gurley has an ‘arthritic component’ to his injury. QB Josh McCown has retired after 16 NFL seasons and joined ESPN as an analyst. Jaguars fined Telvin Smith $88,000 for missing minicamp. Cowboys’ Rico Gathers has been suspended by the NFL one game for violating its substance abuse policy. Texans ended their pursuit of Nick Caserio and the Patriots dropped their tampering charge. Former NFL player Kellen Winslow II will be retried on 8 charges. Cowboys’ QB Dak Prescott’s agent floated $34 million per year?

Although the NFL season is over, the shortest season of the big 4 team sports in the US, the NFL has a new league, the Alliance of American Football (AAF) League, that had already started playing, which includes players who went undrafted, players trying to make a comeback, and players who are on NFL practice squads. The NFL hopes to make this league into kind of developmental league, like MLB’s minor leagues and NBA’s D-League. It was co-founded by Charlie Ebersol. Here are your AAF teams, who are heading into Week 4 (there are a total of 10 weeks plus playoffs, extending the season to 4/27):

Arizona Hotshots
Atlanta Legends
Birmingham Iron
Memphis Express
Orlando Apollos
Salt Lake Stallions
San Antonio Commanders
San Diego Fleet

Newsflash: the NFL suspended play of the new league, just 6 games into the inaugural season, and stopped paying players. Well, so much for that.

The AAF is not to be confused with the XFL, which was launched 17 years ago, by Dick Ebersol of NBC, Charlie’s father. Former Seahawks QB Jim Zorn has been named coach and GM of Seattle’s XFL franchise. There is talk that Johnny Manziel will play in XFL.

Let’s look at the new NFL Hall of Fame class, which includes Tony Gonzalez, Ed Reed, Kevin Mawae, Champ Bailey, Johnny Robinson, Pat Bowlen, Gil Brandt, and Ty Law.

NHL:

The puck dropped on the regular season, for some teams, on 10/3. It ended in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals on 6/12, when the St. Louis Blues beat my Boston Bruins 4-1, and 4-3 in the Finals. The Blues were in last place in their division in January and wound up winning it all. There was plenty of controversy and bad referee calls. One game that the Blues won 2-1, had the penalty been called and the obvious goal allowed, would have been 2-1 the other way. But, alas, such is the game. Bruins’ Zdeno Chara took a slapshot off the jaw, breaking it in two places, requiring plates and screws, but still played the next 2 games. Both goaltenders were outstanding and every game was exciting. It was the Blues first Stanley Cup Championship and they hadn’t been in the Cup Finals since being ousted by the Bruins 4-0 in 1970. 41 other pro teams are still looking for their first championships. The Conn Smythe Trophy for MVP of the Playoffs went to Blues’ Ryan O’Reilly, who played with cracked ribs since the first game. Now, we look to the NHL Draft. Meanwhile, there is plenty of trade news and free agency news. The Capitals signed Carl Hagrelin to a 4-year extension. The Ducks hired Dallas Eakins as new head coach. Penguins GM confirms that the team is not shopping Phil Kessel. The Caps sent Matt Niskanen to the Flyers for Radko Gudas. The Sharks signed star Erik Karlsson to an 8-year deal. The Blackhawks acquired Olli Maata from the Penguins for Dominik Kahun. The Kings bought out the contract of defenseman Dion Phaneuf. The Rangers acquired Jacob Trouba from the Jets. He NHL’s free agent period begins on 7/1. Some of the top free agents are: Matthew Tkachuk, Brock Boeser, William Karlsson, Timo Meier, and Kevin Labanc. Blue Jackets hired Rick Nash as special assistant to GM.

NBA:

The NBA season officially began on 10/3 as well. It officially ended with the underdogs, the Toronto Raptors ousting the favorite Golden State Warriors in six games. Although the Warriors had won the championship 3 times in the last 4 years, they were hampered by injuries to Thompson and Durant. The Raptors’ Kawhi Leonard was on fire. He is also now a free agent, expected to return to the Raptors or go to the Clippers. Many people thought that the Lakers would pry Anthony Davis from the Pelicans, and they managed to do it, but at significant cost, in a a blockbuster trade Saturday. After the trade, the Lakers are left with 2 of the top 10 players in the NBA, but not a lot to put a starting five team together. Other notable free agents are Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving, Bojan Bogdanovic, Danny Green, Darren Collison, DeMarcus Cousins, Derrick Favors, Jeremy Lamb, JJ Redick, Malcolm Brogdon, Marcus Morris, Nikola Mirotic, Patrick Beverley, Paul Millsap, Terrence Ross, Austin Rivers, Carmelo Anthony, Joakim Noah, Justin Holiday, Rajon Rondo, Reggie Bullock, Seth Curry, and Trevor Ariza. Free Agency moratorium ends on 7/6. The Draft is now on peoples’ minds and the Knicks are seriously considering taking Darius Garland over RJ Barrett. He would be the No.3 or No.4 pick. Reportedly, Minnesota, Boston and Chicago are also teams looking at potentially trading up to No.4 to get Garland. The Hawks are interested in trading up for Jarrett Culver. The Knicks already met with Ja Morant, but the Grizzlies have reportedly locked in on Morant at No.2. There are also a lot of trades and trade rumors out there. There’s trade rumors about Rockets’ Chris Paul. Hassan Whiteside is expected to ask Heat to move him. The Wizards are not pursuing Masai Ujiri as president reportedly.

Soccer:

Manchester City is arguably the best team in the world right now, at least in English terms, having completed the most dominant two seasons ever, winning back-to-back titles in the Champions League, beating rival Man United. They also retained the Carabao Cup this year. They completed their unprecedented English version of the Triple Crown by winning the FA Cup Final (or the Cup Final in England) against Watford in the Premier League, 6-0. Two players for Man City scored 2 goals each. The margin of victory tied the record for an FA Cup Final with a match in 1903. The teams had two musicians in each teams’ corners, with Elton John there to root on Watford and Oasis’ Noel Gallagher to root on Man City. Okay, now the world has, or at least I have, turned our focus on the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Obviously, the US Women’s National Soccer team is quite popular, the reigning World Cup champions, with Alex Morgan arguably its biggest star, with 3.25 million Twitter followers. Carli Lloyd was named FIFA Best Women’s Player three years ago. Also, expected to make a huge impact is Julie Ertz a No.6 who debuted 4 years ago at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Team USA made a huge splash by beating Thailand a record 13-0, in their opening match. After then beating Chile 3-0, team USA won their grouping.

Tennis:

After beating Roger Federer in the semis, Rafael Nadal went on to beat Dominic Thiem (who had upset Novak Djokovic in the semis) in the Finals to win his 13th French Open. The clay master was brilliant! The tennis world will now focus on the grass season, leading up to Wimbledon. Perth will host Fed Cup final between Australia and France.

Horse Racing:

Well, the most exciting two minutes in sports, the Kentucky Derby, became a controversial 20 minutes in sports, as for the first time the winner of the race, by a lot, Maximum Security, was disqualified for moving at least two lanes to the right and dangerously obstructing another horse, tangling legs. That gave the second place horse, a 59-1 longshot, Country House, the win. It was the second-largest odds for a Kentucky Derby winner. Gary West, owner of Maximum Security, filed a grievance and was denied and decided he wouldn’t run in the 144th Preakness at Pimlico in Maryland. He also offered up $20 million of his own money, in an unprecedented move in thoroughbred racing, to the owners of Country House, War of Will, Long Range Toddy, and Bodexpress if any of those horses finish ahead of Maximum Security the next time any of them race against him through 12/31/19. Maximum Security suffered his second loss of his career Sunday in the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park. The Preakness favorite was currently Improbable. There were 20 horses racing in the Kentucky Derby, but only 13 entered in the Preakness. More controversy followed, as the horse who had been “impeded” by Maximum Security, War of Will, actually won the Preakness. Country House did not compete in the race because of a virus. More drama, as Bodexpress reared at the start and threw his jockey, John Velazquez, from his mount, and then went on to complete the race without a jockey. That brought us to the third leg of the Triple Crown in ho-hum year, the Belmont Stakes. Sir Winston, an 8:1 horse, won the Belmont. Once again, neither Maximum Security nor Country House competed in this race. War of Will did but finished out of the money. The next race is the Royal Ascot this week.

Racing:

Last year’s champion, his first, for the NASCAR Cup Series was Joey Logano, who beat Martin Truex Jr. in the final 15 laps of the final race at Homestead. Truex Jr. won the crown in 2017. Here is the schedule of races just released for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup in 2019 (they don’t have the sponsors or formal names of all of them yet):

2/17 Daytona 500, won by Denny Hamlin
2/24 Atlanta, QuickTrip 500, won by Brad Keselowski
3/3 Las Vegas-Joey Logano
3/10 ISM Raceway-Kyle Busch
3/17 Auto Club-Kyle Busch
3/24 Martinsville-Brad Keselowski
3/31 Texas-Denny Hamlin
4/7 Bristol-Kyle Busch
4/13 Richmond-Martin Truex Jr.
4/28 Talladega-Chase Elliott
5/5 Dover-won by Martin Truex Jr.
5/11 Kansas-won by Brad Keselowski
5/18 All-Star Open Charlotte-won by Austin Dillon
5/26 Charlotte, Coca-Cola 600-won by Martin Truex Jr.
6/2 Pocono, Pocono 400-won by Kyle Busch
6/9 Michigan, Firekeepers Casino 400-won by Joey Logano
6/23 Sonoma
6/30 Chicago
7/6 Daytona
7/13 Kentucky
7/21 New Hampshire
7/28 Pocono
8/4 Watkins Glen
8/11 Michigan
8/17 Bristol
9/1 Darlington
9/8 Indianapolis
9/15 Las Vegas playoff
9/21 Richmond playoff
9/29 Charlotte playoff
10/6 Dover playoff
10/13 Talladega playoff
10/20 Kansas playoff
10/27 Martinsville playoff
11/3 Texas playoff
11/10 ISM Raceway playoff
11/17 Miami-Homestead final playoff

Formula One begins with F1 Car Launch Dates for the various teams from 2/12 through 2/15 for Renault, Racing Point, McLaren, and Ferrari. That is followed by Pre-Season Testing schedule 2/18-2/21 and 2/26-3/1, both in Catalunya, Spain. Here is the 2019 Formula One 21 Race calendar:

3/17 Australia Grand Prix in Melbourne-won by V. Bottas
3/31 Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir-won by L. Hamilton
4/14 China Grand Prix in Shanghai (this will be the 1000th Grand Prix)-won by L. Hamilton
4/28 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku-won by V. Bottas
5/12 Spain Grand Prix in Barcelona-won by L. Hamilton
5/26 Monaco Grand Prix in Monaco-won by L. Hamilton
6/9 Canada Grand Prix in Montreal-won by L. Hamilton
6/23 France Grand Prix in Le Castellet
6/30 Austria Grand Prix in Spielberg
7/14 Great Britain Grand Prix in Silverstone
7/28 Germany Grand Prix in Hockenheim
8/4 Hungary Grand Prix in Budapest
9/1 Belgium Grand Prix in Spa
9/8 Italy Grand Prix in Monza
9/22 Singapore Grand Prix in Singapore
9/29 Russia Grand Prix in Sochi
10/13 Japan Grand Prix in Suzuka
10/27 Mexico Grand Prix in Mexico City
11/3 USA Grand Prix in Austin, TX
11/17 Brazil Grand Prix in Sao Paulo
12/1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Yas Island

Matt Damon and Christian Bale were named honorary Indy 500 starters. Then, there is the IndyCar Racing circuit and its 2019 calendar (Indy cars are generally considered faster than F1 car along straight lines, mostly because their races are on oval tracks, while F1 tracks are more intricate, requiring better brakes and more aerodynamic grip than Indy cars):

3/10 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg-Josef Newgarden
3/24 Circuit of the Americas-Colton Herta
4/7 Grand Prix of Alabama-Takuma Sato
4/14 Grand Prix at Long Beach-Alexander Rossi
5/11 Grand Prix of Indianapolis-Simon Pagenaud
5/26 Indianapolis 500-Simon Pagenaud
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 1-Josef Newgarden
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 2-Scott Dixon
6/8 Texas Grand Prix-Josef Newgarden
6/23 Road America
7/14 Honda Indy Toronto
7/20 Iowa 300
7/28 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio
8/18 Pocono Grand Prix
8/24 Gateway Grand Prix
9/1 Grand Prix of Portland
9/22 Grand Prix at Laguna Seca

Travel News:

Miami just revealed a multi-billion-dollar plan to remake the Miami International Airport for 80 million passengers. Also, the commissioner has proposed building a transit system from Miami’s Airport to Seaport. That would make it a lot easier for passengers to catch their cruise ships. The FAA has approved Miami’s Sunny Isles condos to complete its two tallest towers ever at 700 feet. Miami International Airport is considering gutting it in-terminal hotel to make into a shared office space. In the far north of Alaska, near Prudhoe Bay oil field, an international research consortium, using a test well, confirmed two high-quality gas hydrate reservoirs in the Alaska North Slope. Gas hydrate is a potential alternative new fuel source. Two people were killed after they were caught in a rip current at Atlantic Beach, NC. A family inherits a filed of forgotten Ferraris. How come that stuff never happens to me? The NTSB ruled that a Tesla Autopilot was engaged before a fatal Florida crash. Greg Norman and his son just opened a water park called “Shark Wake Park 561” adjacent to Okeeheelee Park in West Palm Beach, FL. 10 people were sent to the hospital, after wild turbulence slammed a flight attendant into the plane’s ceiling, on an ALK Airlines B-737 flight over France. Boeing has signed its first deal for the B-737 Max jet since the deadly crashes grounded the plane worldwide. Boeing made the announcement at the Paris Air Show this week. They announced that International Airlines Group, the parent company of British Airways and other carriers, signed a LOI for 200 of the aircraft, which could be worth as much as $24 billion. Ethiopian Airlines had a 737 Max crash in March and another 737 Max, flown by Lion Air, crashed last year in Indonesia. Rival Airbus also announced sales at the show, to IAG for A321XLR jets for Aer Lingus and Iberia, as well as Delta Air Lines, Saudi Arabia Airlines, and Atlantic Airways. By the way, Qatar Airways won best airline in the world for the 5th time, at the Paris Air Show. Qatar is where the next World Cup is supposed to be, but more about that later in the Repo Commentary. Dollywood is completing its long-awaited expansion. Disneyworld has just announced significant increases in prices of annual passes for Florida residents in all categories except the Select category. Ford has revealed the horsepower and torque for its new Mustang Shelby GT500, saying it will be the “most powerful street-legal Ford ever.”

Health News:

The NJ Department of Health has reported another potential measles exposure at Newark Liberty International Airport. Reportedly, an international traveler who has been diagnosed with measles was at the airport on 5/29. The measles outbreak began in October and the CDC says there have already been 1,044 individual cases reported in 28 states. This is the greatest number of cases reported since 1994 and since measles was declared eliminated in the US in 2000, through vaccinations. Many of the illnesses are among children, as a growing population of the US is going without the vaccination, due to fear of it causing other conditions, religious reasons, and because they are recent immigrants. People born before 1989 may also need to update their measles vaccine. This particular measles outbreak began in the Portland, OR area. The world’s first surviving octuplets are now 9-years-old. Research on more than 2.8 million adults suggests that being obese is linked to a significantly higher chance of serious disease and early death than being a healthy weight. Presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Glasgow, Scotland, the study found that people with a body mass index (BMI) of 30-35 were at 70% higher risk of developing heart failure than healthy weight people. Even a BMI of 25-30 increased the risk by 20%, and a BMI of 35-40 more than doubled the risk. A BMI of 25-30 also increased the risk of Type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea by more than 200%, and a BMI of 30-35 increased the risk of Type 2 diabetes by 500% and sleep apnea by 600%. Scientists say they may have found a way to solve the world’s $2.5 trillion problem of plastic pollution, as they have discovered a new way to assemble plastics that takes recycling into consideration at the molecular level. Suicides are rising among young girls. Texting while walking could soon be a crime in NYC. Researchers say that air pollution now damages “every organ in the body.”. A helicopter crashed into a skyscraper in Manhattan last Tuesday in rain and fog, killing one person and burning up. Authorities are trying to figure out what happened and why that helicopter was in Manhattan in a no-fly zone. A 116-year-old Italian great grandmother, who was Europe’s oldest living person, has died. Researchers are saying that 60% of all the plastic ever created in the world is now lying in landfills and other natural surroundings and that only about 9% of it is actually being recycled. I saw this story a couple of weeks ago on TV news and it was alarming how Americans are separating their bottles and boxes for recycling, but those trucks are simply dumping at landfills, because they don’t have the capacity at recycling plants and they don’t have the technology to make the items recyclable (removing caps, labels, etc.). It has been a complete farce pulled on the public. This has led to new scientific research at the molecular level by several labs to create plastics that will biodegrade themselves. That is the opposite mission for plastic, which was originally designed to never break down. In this particular article, it also says that a recent study shows that humans eat a credit card worth of plastic each week!

Animal News:

I was very psyched, after growing up wanting to be a zoologist (then finding out that they make zero money), I got to visit an animal rescue ranch in North Carolina a couple of weeks ago that has jaguars, tigers, lions, cougars, leopards, etc. The lions were lazy in the hot sun, but the tigers were on full display. National Geographic says that half of all amphibian species are at risk of extinction. Italy and Malta are the centers of songbird poaching. Dogs can tune out noise. A white beluga whale was found in the North Sea and is believed to have been trained to spy on NATO forces by Russia. Asiatic lionesses must shield their cubs from killer male lions. A woman has been charged with animal cruelty after a tiger was found in a ‘rinky-dink’ cage by Houston authorities. Animal rights group has accused Fellsmere farm workers of animal cruelty. Tourists’ exciting video shows an alligator biting a bigger, bellowing gator in Florida. A 7-foot snake scares an Oklahoma man as it pokes its head out of dryer vent. A fisherwoman in Ireland reeled in a 15-foot/1,200-lb shark after a 90-minute struggle. It was measured and documented and released. It was a rare bluntnose sixgill shark, also known as a cow shark. Researchers say an Australian dinosaur had natural “high-heel”. A “Summit of the Bear” is being held between Spain and France, after bears attacked sheep. A 27-year-old man was killed in Zimbabwe by a huge crocodile, while fishing with his brother. A recent study suggests the number of attacks by Nile crocodiles was between 275 and 745 per year, with about 63% proving fatal. A week after a father saved his daughter’s life off a North Carolina beach by continually punching a shark’s nose to release her leg, another child has been bitten on a North Carolina beach. The doctors think it’s a miracle that the 17-year-old girl survived her attack, although they had to remove one leg above the knee, because her blood loss was so severe. So, there have been 3 shark attacks this month, when NC usually only sees on average 2 shark attacks per year. We are in the middle of shark breeding season, so we are seeing hundreds of blacktip sharks off of Florida, and several tracked hammerheads, tigers, bull sharks, and great whites, as well. The 2018 worldwide total of shark attacks was 66 confirmed, while the average over 2013-2017 was 84 incidents annually. Now, those are “unprovoked shark attacks on humans” per the International Shark Attack File. There were also 34 “provoked attacks on humans”. The 1975 movie JAWS, which ruined my beach going experience forever, was set in a ficticious town of Amity on Cape Cod in Massachusetts (although there is a real town named Amityville in Long Island), but residents of Cape Cod are now learning to deal with a rising population of great white sharks. The reason is that the population of seals is booming there. So, experts advise, do not swim on beaches that are posted with the purple flag and a picture of a shark on it, do not wear shiny jewelry in the water, avoid excessive splashing, swim in groups (not alone), avoid any areas that have seals, and stick close to shore. As people are taking emotional support animals everywhere, many states are cracking down on abusers. Okay, this is odd, an award-winning dairy farm apparently fed dairy cows coffee creamer, which produced tastier milk.

Entertainment News:

Phil McCormack, the lead singer of Molly Hatchet, died at the age of 58, on 4/26. Dave Samuels of Spyro Gyra died 4/22 at the age of 70. John Singleton, the director of the movie BOYZ N THE HOOD, has died at age 51. Larry King suffered a heart issue but is now recovering. Apparently, I missed an epic battle scene in Game of Thrones. Prince William and Kate Middleton celebrated their 8th wedding anniversary. There also is rumored to be a feud between Prince William and brother Prince Harry. It could be because of Harry’s wife’s Meghan’s non-royal actions. Buckingham Palace is reportedly considering separating the Princes, stationing Harry in South Africa. Anne Hathaway has been recalling her doubts about making it in Hollywood. She is also talking about a possible sequel to PRINCESS DIARIES. Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles sang the National Anthem at the 2019 Kentucky Derby on 5/4. I didn’t get the call again! That was the last ‘normal’ moment of THAT Kentucky Derby. Actor Rami Malek credits his role on TV series “Mr. Robot” for landing him his Oscar-winning role in BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. He is excited about his next movie role as the bad guy in the 25th James Bond movie, which has begun filming with Daniel Craig, who says it will be his last James Bond movie. “The Simpsons” celebrated their 35th anniversary. Kourtney Kardashian has reignited John Mayer romance rumors. There are a lot of questions and rumors about the six-episode of the 90’s hit “90210 Reboot” with Jason Priestley, Tori Spelling, Shannen Doherty, Jennie Garth, Ian Ziering, Gabrielle Carteris, Brian Austin Green, but without Luke Perry, who passed away last month. Natalie Morales is leaving Access Hollywood and Access Live. Vanessa A. Williams is heading back to Days of Our Lives. She is also still on The Talk, rival to The View. Jana Kramer and Mike Caussin are sounding off on Olivia Culpo and Danny Amendola’s messy split. Jenni “JWoww” Farley is slamming her ex Roger Mathews. Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin are still in the spotlight for allegations of their briberies to get their kids into college. It’s official now, Woodstock 50 concert, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the iconic music concert in upstate New York that changed the world, has been cancelled. Producer Andy Cohen had to physically separate Jax and James in the dramatic Vanderpump Rules reunion show. Although I never liked Jax, I never liked James even less. Wait, does that make sense? And, wait, new news on Vanderpump Rules, producer Lisa Vanderpump is furious with Andy and Bravo TV and is threatening to take her show to another network. This is all bubbling up from the feud on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, in which she allegedly sold a story to TMZ about how one of the other wives returned a dog that she had purchased from Lisa’s rescue foundation, which also broke up longtime friendship between Kyle and Lisa and some silly lie-detector test. Lisa Vanderpump has already quit Real Housewives of Beverly Hills over the scandal and all the cast pointing fingers at her. Kim Kardashian had a CBD-themed shower for Baby No.4. Don’t worry, the baby is being carried by a surrogate, not Kim. Kim and Kanye West hilariously surprised a Hollywood tour bus. Speaking of the Kardashians, OJ Simpson has just gotten a Twitter account and is controversially sounding off on every topic, including that he never had an affair with mother Kardashian, wife at the time of his late lawyer Robert Kardashian and his wife’s (Nicole Brown Simpson’s) close friend. Okay, that’s now 2 people at least that I think shouldn’t have Twitter accounts! Halima Aden has made history as the first model to wear a hijab and burkini for Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue. We have lost a number of stars this week, including comedian Tim Conway, famous for the Carol Burnett Show, at age 85, Laura Bush’s mom Jenna Hawkins Welch, at age 99, Twin Peaks actress Peggy Lipton, at age 72, and legendary actress/singer Doris Day, at age 97. The Jeremy Kyle UK tabloid talk show has been cancelled, after the death of a guest. This morning, fashion icon Gloria Vanderbilt died at age 95. Elsa Patton from Real Housewives of Miami died at the age of 84. POWER RANGERS actor Pua Magasiva died at age 38. The star of the new movie about Elton John, Taron Egerton, lived with Elton John before filming ROCKETMAN. Robert Pattison celebrated his birthday with his Twilight costars. He is in negotiations to play the next movie BATMAN. Nick Viall says he will stand by Hannah Brown, “regardless of who criticizes her.” Young and Pregnant’s Jade replaced Jenelle Evans on TEEN MOM 2. The original Beverly Hills 90210 writers and producers were “alienated” from the new reboot. The new writers quit on Tori Spelling’s birthday. Keanu Reeves revealed he had a crush on SPEED costar Sandra Bullock. Meredith, Alex, and Richard just got fired on Grey’s Anatomy. No doubt due to some of the fallout from its star’s alleged faking of his own attack in Chicago, the show Empire has now been cancelled. Ellen Pompeo slammed Bachelor producer over Kelly Ripa salary dig. You probably have noticed that Southern Charm is now missing former Congressman and convicted felon Thomas, who is now facing rape charges from his nanny. Survivor just completed its Season 38. Britney Spear’s manager is clarifying his comment about her possibly never performing again. Jon Gosselin is publicly reacting to ex-wife Kate’s new dating show. Game of Thrones finale will be streaming 5/19 on HBO Now. I am hearing from fans of the show how deeply disappointed they are in this season 8, the last season. 10.7 million Americans are expected to skip work on Monday, after Sunday’s finale. Joe Rogan calls AI that replicated his voice “terrifyingly accurate”. Kroft has exited 60 Minutes after 30 years. Jennifer Morrison has joined “This Is Us”. Nike has 11 of the 15 highest paid endorsement deals in sports. The have just signed LeBron James to a lifetime contract that is worth upwards of $1 billion. But, they don’t have Stephen Curry, although they tried. He did sign with them out of college for 4-years, until 2013. Nike pitched him in 2013 and mispronounced his name in the meeting. During the presentation, one of the Powerpoint slides had Kevin Durant’s name on it, instead of Curry’s.

2018 was a record year at the domestic box office. Ticket sales were almost $11.9 billion, of which Disney pulled in a record $3.092 billion with BLACK PANTHER ($700mm), AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR ($678.8mm), and INCREDIBLES 2($608.6mm). JURASSIC WORLD 2 pulled in $417.7mm and AQUAMAN pulled in $320mm.

This past week’s box-office was extremely strong, as the last Marvel AVENGERS movie shattered the previous opening weekend record. It shattered a number of other records too:

• Largest Thursday Preview: $60 million (beat $57 million STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS)
• Widest Opening: 4,662 theaters (beat 4,529 theaters for DESPICABLE ME 3)
• Largest Friday/Opening Day/Single Day Box: $156.7 million (beat $119.1 million STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS)
• Largest Saturday: $109 million (beat $82.1 million AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR)
• Largest Sunday: $84.3 million (beat $69.2 million AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR)
• Domestic Opening Weekend: $350 million (beat $257.69 million AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR)
• #1 Movie Market Share: 90% (beat 84.5% AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON)
• Largest International Opening: $859 million (beat $443.15 million THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS)
• Worldwide Opening Weekend: $1.2 billion (beat $640.5 million (AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR)
It was also the Highest Per Theater Average, Largest April Opening, Largest Spring Opening, Largest PG-13 Opening, largest 3-Day Gross, Biggest Weekend Overall ($389 million), Fastest to $100 million, Fastest to $200 million, Fastest to $250 million, Fastest to $300 million, Fastest to $350 million, Global 4DX Format Opening Record, Global 3D Opening Record, and Global IMAX Opening Record.

It was another disappointing weekend for a pair of summer sequels, as MEN IN BLACK INTERNATIONAL and SHAFT failed to meet expectations. MEN IN BLACK INTERNATIONAL opened at No.1, with $30 million (although it cost $110 million to make and was supposed to debut above $50 million); THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2 came in No.2, in its second week, with $24.4 million (hitting $92.7 million for a film that cost $80 million to make); No.3 was ALADDIN, with $17.3 million in its fourth week (total now $264 million for a cost of $183 million); No.4 was ROCKETMAN, in its third week, coming in with $9.4 million; and No.5 was DARK PHOENIX, in its second week, taking in $9.3 million. The other major debut, SHAFT, came in No.6 with only $8.9 million, just beating out GODZILLA.

I want to go and see ROCKETMAN, JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3-PARABELLUM, A DOG’S JOURNEY, and MEN IN BLACK.

Technology & Space News:

After fatal airplane accidents and pilot difficulties on the new B-737 MAX aircraft, they were pulled from service by the FAA and the airlines that flew them. Boeing says it has completed the software update. It has logged 207 test flights lasting 360 hours and is now ready to release the fix to the flight control system under investigation for two fatal crashes. Do you remember Grumpy Cat, who sparked smiles and memes all over the Internet? Well, the cat has died. The EU competition commissioner says that a Facebook breakup would be “last resort”. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise says it plans to acquire Seattle-based Cray to beef up supercomputing power. On May 7, the US Department of Energy announced that it was working with Cray and AMD to build one of the world’s most powerful computers, called Frontier, due to arrive in 2021. It will have a performance of 1.5 exaflops, or 1.5 quintillion calculations per second, a little faster than my Texas Instruments calculator. That is 50% faster than the supercomputer that Cray is working on with Intel called Aurora. Microsoft and Sony will partner on game streaming and AI. China’s lunar rover reportedly made a discovery on the far side of the moon. Pink Floyd already told us about it though. iPhone 11R leaks show fresh new colors and larger camera bump. Apple has also unleashed its latest versions of iOS, MacOS, WatchOS, and TVOS ahead of its annual developer conference in June. Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, has unveiled a $9,999 electric car. NASA is creating the world’s first all-electric airplanes powered by “holy grail” frozen hydrogen fuel. Oh, we are still in a helium drought. Microsoft has harnessed AI to make Word politically correct. I might need that. Jeff Bezos of Amazon has unveiled an ambitious plan to send a spaceship to the Moon. Did you know that a rare Apple-1 computer could fetch as much as $650,000 at auction. Elon Musk told Tesla employees he will review all of company’s expenses in new cost-cutting plan. For that one client who asked, a Tesla uses 18650 cells for power, with each cell being just slightly larger than a AA battery. However, they have double the volume, more than double the output voltage, and 8 times the amperage. Here’s something that puzzles me: my iPhone 8 Plus no longer has a headphone jack (I have to use an adaptor or Bluetooth), but Apple’s iPod touch and MacBook still have headphone jacks.

US News:

75% of Americans are against a plan to let every prisoner have the right to vote. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says he won’t comply with subpoena for President Trump’s tax returns. CNN attempted to shame the White House, as a snarky reporter said the podium has gone dusty from lack of press briefings. A Michigan state legislator accused of offering to sell his vote over text says he should have phoned instead. He may not be getting the point. Bikers have embarked on a cross country National Veterans Awareness Ride. You know, on average, 23 veterans commit suicide every day. I have been more involved lately performing and welcoming home veterans from Honor Flights to Washington, D.C., which was originally for WWII vets, but has been expanded to Korean War and Vietnam War veterans. Thousands of people show up at the airport and the veterans seem to like the Elvis outfit. The College Board president who is now pushing for a new SAT testing policy was also the architect of the controversial Common Core program. A Tennessee death row inmate died in prison, less than 3 months before his scheduled execution and less than a day after a fellow inmate was executed. He was pronounced dead of natural causes at age 64. A man has been sentenced for death threats to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and his family over net neutrality rollback. The man in Wisconsin shooting faced drug charges as well. ICE is reportedly moving 225,000 illegals across the country. More will be coming to South Florida. On the heels of Alabama signing into law a total abortion ban, with no exceptions for incest or rape, Missouri is now closer to doing the same. There is a movement to kick Chicago out of Illinois? A one-armed man is suing police after they handcuffed his wrist to his ankle.. ICE is averaging only 7,000 deportations per month. Nonprofits are reporting that Americans are less charitable this year. A boom in employee bonuses handed out by some companies in the wake of the 2017 tax cuts appear to have been temporary, according to Labor Department data released yesterday. Employee bonuses contracted 24% in Q1 2019, the most since 2005. One bright spot is that companies increased spending on vacation and other paid time off by 3.3%, the most of any benefit category. The US Air Force has armed bombers with hypersonic missile for the first time.

International News:

As the US moved a large aircraft carrier group into the Persian Gulf, Iran has issued a new threat to the US, escalating tensions further. Iran has told Middle East militias to prepare for proxy war. Iraq is once again also caught up in escalating those tensions. The Pentagon has deployed missiles that can ‘fry’ weapons. TA Chinese family who paid $6.5 million in college admissions scandal claims they were duped. Basque separatist chief has been jailed in France. Cuba is betting on tourism, as President Trump restrictions take hold. A new Chinese armored vehicle can now launch swarms of killer drones. Russia is hailing its new “science fiction” secret military lasers. The collapse of Venezuela’s government and economy is the worst outside of war in decades. Ironically, Americans make up Mexico’s largest demographic of immigrants. There are fears for Angela Merkel’s health, after she violently shook during a ceremony. Iran is seeking to rally international support against pressure from the US. After year after the US pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement, the deal itself is at risk of collapse, with the EU caught in the middle. China and North Korea are looking to strengthen ties as Chinese president travels to North Korea, amid US disputes. Boris Johnson is building a lead in his race to be the next UK Prime Minister. There was a massive blackout in Argentina that covered 3 nations. Hong Kong protesters are not happy with their leader’s apology and demand that she quit. Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, was buried yesterday, after his dramatic collapse and death inside a courtroom. France has detained 1980s soccer great Platini in a probe of the stunning decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. Kazakhstan has now arrested nearly 4,000 protesters.

Florida:

President Trump officially launched his 2020 run for President in Miami last night. If you are interested in seeing more famous bands or solos in concert than my Generation Gap or Elvis Presley performances (and I have been singing once or twice per week), there are many acts coming to Florida, perhaps when you will be visiting (I’ve added some concerts since the last Repo Commentary):

The Temptations-Fort Lauderdale, January 31
Don McLean-Immokalee, January 31
Michael Bolton-Fort Lauderdale, February 2
The Four Tops and the Temptations-West Palm Beach, February 2
Melissa Manchester-Aventura, February 8
Michael Bolton-West Palm Beach, February 8
The Commodores-Miami, February 9
Patti LaBelle-Fort Myers, February 11
Duran Duran-Miami Beach, February 12
Franki Valli & the Four Seasons, Hollywood, February 14
Andrea Bocelli-Miami, February 14
Dave Mason-Fort Lauderdale, February 15
Little River Band-Fort Myers, February 15
Michael Buble-Sunrise, February 16 (I would like to go)
Alan Parsons Project-Fort Lauderdale, February 18
Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes-Bonita Springs, February 20
Art Garfunkel-Fort Lauderdale, February 20
Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20
Sarah Brightman-Hollywood, February 20
PGA Honda Classic-PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, February 28-March 2
Pink-Sunrise-March 1 (it was fantastic!)
Sara Mclachlan-March 1, West Palm Beach
Paul Anka-Fort Lauderdale-March 4
Elton John-Sunrise, March 16
Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band-Sunrise, March 17
Steve Miller Band-Hollywood, March 17
Tony Bennett-Miami, March 21
Palm Beach International Boat Show-West Palm Beach, March 28-March 31
Jackson Browne-West Palm Beach, April 3
Abba The Concert-Miami Beach, April 4
The Rolling Stones-Miami, April 20
Whitesnake-Fort Lauderdale, April 25
Slayer-West Palm Beach, May 11
Rascal Flatts-West Palm Beach, May 23
Ariana Grande-Orlando, May 29
Ozzie Osbourne & Megadeth-Sunrise, May 31
Hootie & the Blowfish-West Palm Beach, June 8
Florence and The Machine-Miami, June 9
Train & Goo Goo Dolls-West Palm Beach, July 6
Hugh Jackman-Sunrise, July 6
Jeff Lynnes’ Electric Light Orchestra-Sunrise, July 9
New Kids on the Block, Salt N Pepa, Naughty by Nature-Sunrise, July 14
Iron Maiden-Sunrise, July 18
Dave Matthews Band-West Palm Beach, July 26
Jennifer Lopez-Miami, July 26
Korn & Alice in Chains-West Palm Beach, July 28
Shawn Mendes-Miami, July 28
Queen & Adam Lambert-Sunrise, August 17
Florida Georgia Line-West Palm Beach, August 29
Peter Frampton-West Palm Beach, September 6
Dane Cook-Fort Lauderdale, September 28

Jeff Kidwell in the News-6/5/19

I was honored by Global Investor/ISF Magazine to be interviewed and included in their new print and online “Securities Finance Americas Guide 2019” on pages 60-61.

Their link is https://www.globalinvestorgroup.com/articles/3692602/americas-securities-finance-guide-2019. It’s a great piece, with some very talented experts and writers, and I’m honored/fortunate to have been included.